His detention awaiting his bail hearing might not have been on the scale of the privations of the apostles, but there’s definitely something Moses-like about controversial pastor Shepherd Bushiri’s flight to Malawi last week.
The raging torrents of the Limpopo didn’t miraculously part for him and his wife to walk across unhindered – in fact we don’t even know if that’s where he left. He could have walked across from a village in the North West to its neighbour in Botswana. He might even have cadged a lift in his friend the President of Malawi’s jet out of Waterkloof Air Force Base.
If he did, it wouldn’t have been the first time someone with connections evaded the law: Sudanese strongman Omar al Bashir was spirited out of the country with government help while our own justice department was trying to serve an arrest warrant on him issued by the International Court of Justice. Grace Mugabe wiped her backside – and our faces – on diplomatic conventions after she beat up one of her son’s love interests with a kettle flex and then fled beyond the reach of our courts. And, let’s never forget the Guptas. In retrospect Waterkloof was the least of our worries – after they graduated to wiping their backsides on our constitution.
Pastor Bushiri was out on bail of R200 000 awaiting trial on a number of charges most of which involved either fraud or money laundering. Given the sheer scale of the alleged crimes he stands accused of and the resources Bushiri had, Major 1 was a major flight risk. The authorities didn’t need the self-proclaimed prophet’s gift to predict he would re-enact his own exodus – except it didn’t take him 40 days, it might not even have taken him 40 hours to get back to his homeland in Malawi.
As the government scrambled to find answers, it was left to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to make two very illuminating revelations: that our borders are porous and that he didn’t want the Bushiris released on bail in the first place – since their residence status was irregular too.
It escaped very few Twitterati that the minister was being held to account for an accused who’d escaped justice, by a state capture corruption accused whose party had redeployed him to Parliament; Bongani Bongo. And therein lies the problem, as the evangelists would remind us, you can’t be bothering with the splinter in someone else’s eye when there’s a bloody great beam in your own.
Hypocrisy has always been our strong suit, but then in what must have been an act of divine intervention, Bushiri and his wife were arrested in Malawi. That’s a plot twist in Exodus 2.0 – the Bushiri Edition, that no one could have foreseen in Africa, obviously not even the prophet himself. Could this be the first crack in the wall of the annus horribilis that has been 2020? And if so, who could be next? Grace, the Guptas? As the Good Book teaches us, even Major 1, it’s all about faith, hope and charity…
Originally posted on 21 November 2020 in the Saturday Star