FRANCISTOWN: While self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary are in a fierce battle with South African authorities over fraud and money laundering allegations, Shepherd’s name resurfaced in Botswana albeit under suspicious circumstances.
A common thread in the applicants’ submission is that the lower court erred in law by not ordering that their sentences for offences such as entering Botswana illegally, breaking and stealing from a shop and being found in possession of explosives should run concurrently and not consecutively. For example in Bhekimpilo’s matters, he was convicted and sentenced to eight and five years in jail for entering Botswana illegally, and breaking and stealing from a shop respectively while he was also imprisoned for three months for the remaining offence.
In this instance, Bhekimpilo will serve a cumulative 13 years and three months in jail for all his offences. The applicants also claimed their fates were sealed after Bhekimpilo’s alleged relationship with the Magistrate broke down hence the sterner sentences the Magistrate meted out on them. Lifting the lid on the veil of secrecy around his ‘love affair' with the Magistrate, Bhekimpilo said that his relationship with her began after she returned from a pilgrimage from SA at Bushiri’s church, Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG). Continuing his narrative that some people believed it preposterous and likely to be too good to be true, Bhekimpilo said that during the Magistrates’ consultation with Shepherd, also known as Major One by his legion of followers, the Magistrate was told her problems could be solved if she consulted a powerful traditional doctor.
According to Bhekimpilo, Major One had allegedly advised the Magistrate to seek such a doctor, which Bhekimpilo, one of the accused persons that happened to land in her court in Botswana, had consulted before. Following her pilgrimage to SA and upon her return to Botswana, Bhekimpilo said that the Magistrate made overtures to him through some intermediaries asking him to provide her with the contact details of his traditional doctor so that the doctor could exorcise her problems.
Bhekimpilo added that all this was happening in the midst of his legal woes before the said Magistrate whilst he was in jail before his sentences were passed. Bhekimpilo said that he later acceded to the request of the Magistrate adding that a prison official he did not name, based at Serowe Prison, played a prominent facilitative role in his (Bhekimpilo) communication with the Magistrate. In the end, Bhekimpilo said the Magistrate ended up buying him a mobile phone that he constantly used to communicate with her whilst in prison in Serowe where he still is. “After some time, the Magistrate proposed love to me and I accepted.
I then continued to communicate with her through the phone she bought me sometimes using the Short Message Service (SMS). The Magistrate even promised to acquit and discharge me for all the offences. But in the midst of our relationship, the Magistrate started to make demands that I could not meet. In the end, our relationship broke down irretrievably before I could give her the details of my traditional doctor.
The Magistrate then told me over the phone that she will fix me for betraying her,” Bhekimpilo further claimed. Bhekimpilo further prayed with Moroka to issue an order that the phone of the Magistrate should be surrendered to relevant prosecutorial authorities and service providers such as Mascom for the court to ascertain if what he said was true or not. During their turn to motivate their applications, Emmanuel and Mudongo also hinged their application on some of the reasons that Bhekimpilo advanced. They also claimed that their predicaments piled soon after Bhekimpilo and the Magistrate’s alleged relationship collapsed.
The trio further stated that they are not surprised to find themselves in their current situations adding that the Magistrate later became vindictive towards them during sentencing.
They claimed that she even went to the extent of altering information in the case record in order to get back at them because of Bhekimpilo, hence their application. In response to the application made by the applicants, Neo Machola from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions said that as far as they are concerned, the applicants were properly convicted and sentenced by the lower court. “We wish to not waste the court’s time by responding to all the allegations made by each of the applicants in this application.
The court record that we have which the applicants are also in possession of shows that the applicants were convicted and sentenced accordingly. I will, however, not dwell upon the alleged affair between Bhekimpilo and the Magistrate because we have addressed that issue in our Heads of Argument,” Machola briefly replied. Judgment in the matter will be delivered on December 1.