Embattled prophet Shepherd Bushiri has acquired the services of top defence advocate Barry Roux, the Sowetan newspaper reported yesterday.
According to the publication, Roux is expected to defend Bushiri (35), and his wife Mary (37) against charges of fraud and money-laundering.
Roux gained some fame when he defended murder-convicted former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius in 2014, after the world-famous athlete shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.
His catchphrase “I put it to you”, became instantly recognisable and the punchline of many jokes and memes. Roux’s daily fee is reportedly around R50 000.
Bushiri and his wife were arrested by the Hawks in Rustenburg on Friday, on charges of fraud and money-laundering. They made a brief appearance in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on Monday, before the case was postponed to allow the State to carry out further investigations.
Bushiri and his wife, who remain in custody, will return to court today (Wednesday).
A large group of Bushiri church congregants protested outside the court before the couple’s appearance.
Among those were Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama, who said: “As BLF, we stand with the major one (Shepherd Bushiri). This is a systematic attack on the church and the prophet.”
Addressing hundreds of Bushiri’s congregants, who sang and demonstrated outside the court, Mngxitama said the BLF was the only political movement that had come to show support to the self-proclaimed prophet and his wife.
“We are the only ones who have come out, because we are on the side of the truth. We know that the major one is being prosecuted by this government because he is a black man who is successful out of his own effort and his blessings from his God,” Mngxitama said.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said the case against the couple was linked to alleged offences of fraud and money-laundering, as well as the contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), which had been committed from 2015.
The contravention of the Act was in relation to Exchange Control Regulations relating to foreign currency of US$1 147 200 (around R15m).
City Press reported on Sunday that the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), a branch of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), had joined the legal fight against the couple and had filed a preservation order seeking to seize their assets, pending the finalisation of the criminal case against them.
Two sources familiar with developments reportedly said the AFU had already filed an application at the High Court in Pretoria, seeking its permission to seize the Bushiris’ luxury houses and cars, as well as the prophet’s Gulfstream private jet, which is parked in a private hangar at Lanseria Airport outside Johannesburg.
According to The Sowetan, Roux will represent the couple at their bail application today (Wednesday). — News24