Willah Mudolo says the money that self-proclaimed “prophet” Shepherd Bushiri allegedly transferred into the account of one of his businesses happened without his knowledge and had been paid back.
Mudolo and his co-accused wife Zethu sat closely together in the dock of the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, as Willah passed notes to his lawyers during his second appearance for a bail application on Thursday.
“I intend to plead not guilty and will provide evidence to the State that any and all funds that were paid into the business account of Rising Estates (Pty) LTD [were] without my knowledge, but on instructions of Mr Shepherd Bushiri, was repaid to the nominated account of Mr Shepherd Bushiri and various beneficiaries,” said Mudolo in an affidavit.
The Mudolos, Landiwe Ntlokwana – who was in court – as well as Bushiri and his wife, are accused of fraud, theft and money laundering involving R102 million.
Last month, Bushiri, his wife Ntlokwana, and Zethu were granted bail. Mudolo only applied at a later stage.
In a moment of comic relief on Thursday, a court orderly, instructed by the magistrate, stepped out of court and loudly yelled the names of Shepherd and Mary Bushiri to see if they were in court.
Meanwhile, the Bushiris were far away in Malawi after fleeing South Africa earlier this month in contravention of their bail conditions.
Mudolo said that the absence of the Bushiris would delay the trial and prolong his time in prison.
He said: “As two of the accused persons in this matter have indeed left South Africa, it is unknown as to when these two accused persons will be extradited to stand their trial and when the trial will commence.”
Department of Home Affairs official Brendan Adams continued his testimony and told the court that he had been requested to verify Mudolo’s status in the country in August, two months before Mudolo was arrested.
He said that he conducted two interviews with Mudolo while he was in custody. Mudolo’s lawyer JP Marais questioned why the interview was conducted without the presence of an attorney.
“When we conduct interviews, you introduce and identify yourself. If the person declines (to be interviewed), we don’t interview him, but he did not decline,” responded Adams.
During his last appearance, Adams testified that Mudolo had violated local immigration laws when he allegedly conducted business in South Africa while in the country on a visitor’s permit. This allegedly made him an illegal immigrant.
Marais presented a letter from a home affairs official and argued that the letter had given Mudolo the ability to run business in the country, which Adams disputed.
The case was postponed until Tuesday next week.
Earlier this month, a Malawi court ordered the immediate release of the Bushiris.
The hearing of the Malawi State’s appeal of the lower court ruling that led to their immediate release was postponed on Tuesday.
A High Court in Lilongwe was set to hear the Malawi State prosecutor’s appeal of the lower court ruling that found, among other things, that their arrests by the Malawi Police Service were unlawful because they were not channelled through the Ministry of Homeland Security, a local publication reported.