Controversial millionaire preacher Shepherd Bushiri, out on bail in South Africa in a case of alleged fraud and money laundering, has fled to his native Malawi, a statement said Saturday.
The self-proclaimed prophet is known for his “miracles” and wildly extravagant lifestyle and has made huge investments in the mining, telecommunications and luxury sectors.
He was arrested for alleged fraud and money laundering in October in a multi-million-dollar case but got bail in November.
His wealth comes from donations from followers of his Enlightened Christian Gathering church in the South African capital Pretoria.
Bushiri and his wife Grace were granted bail on condition that they would confine themselves to South Africa’s Gauteng province.
Bushiri said he had fled South Africa as he feared for his life.
“There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and… there has never been state protection,” he said in a statement.
“Our coming to Malawi, hence, is a tactical withdrawal from the Republic of South Africa solely meant to preserve our lives,” he said.
“We have to be alive to testify.”
There had been allegations that Bushiri fled South Africa with Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, who was on a two-day official visit to South Africa and returned on Saturday.
But Chakwera’s spokesman Brian Banda said the priest was not on the presidential jet.
“The allegation that Prophet Shepherd Bushiri came on the same flight with the president is false,” he said.