By ERNEST MABUZA | on 28 December 2018
The SABC has been ordered to let controversial pastor Prophet Shepherd Bushiri respond to comments made about him during an interview on April 16. Bushiri had complained to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA)‚ and had one of the grievances upheld and one rejected. The two complaints date back to April 16 when Bushiri was interviewed on the SABC’s Morning Live programme – and this after he had initially demanded that the public broadcaster afford him a right to respond to comments made about him almost two weeks earlier‚ on April 5.
The SABC has been ordered to let controversial pastor Prophet Shepherd Bushiri respond to comments made about him during an interview on April 16. Bushiri had complained to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA)‚ and had one of the grievances upheld and one rejected. The two complaints date back to April 16 when Bushiri was interviewed on the SABC’s Morning Live programme – and this after he had initially demanded that the public broadcaster afford him a right to respond to comments made about him almost two weeks earlier‚ on April 5. But an hour after his interview‚ the public broadcaster had an interview with another person‚ Solomon Ashoms‚ who led a march against so-called fake prophets. During this interview‚ Bushiri and his practices were widely discussed‚ without Bushiri being given a chance to respond.
According to BCCSA documents‚ in the April 5 broadcast‚ the SABC reported that Bushiri was being “investigated by the Hawks for allegedly transporting an estimated R15-million a month out of South Africa to his country Malawi‚ in his private jet”.
The BCCSA documents state that Bushiri’s first complaint was that during his right to reply interview at 7.35am on April 16‚ the interview by Simphiwe Ncongwane was conducted in a manner that was biased‚ prejudicial‚ persecuting and very interrogative.
The second complaint was that‚ after the interview‚ the SABC had interviewed Ashoms‚ at 8.36am. He said Ashoms brought anointed water and honey branded in Bushiri’s name.
Even though the interview related to the recently held #FakeProphetsMustFall march‚ led by Ashoms and others‚ the interview seemed to have revolved around Bushiri. Bushiri claimed the SABC did not give him the right to reply.
The march was the subject of litigation in March‚ when Bushiri obtained a Pretoria High Court order interdicting the organisers from making defamatory statement about him.
The SABC said Bushiri came to the studio on April 16 to respond to all allegations made in various newspapers. It did not respond to the second complaint.
In its finding‚ the commission dismissed Bushiri’s first complaint‚ and said the SABC had granted him the right of reply.
“As for the part of the complaint that the interviewer‚ Mr Ncongwane’s conduct was biased‚ prejudicial‚ persecuting and very interrogative we have to emphasise that presenters are allowed to give their own comment on and criticism of any actions or events of public importance‚” the commission’s tribunal said in its finding‚ dated August 23.
However‚ it upheld Bushiri’s complaint on the second complaint.
The commission said that even though the subject matter of the interview related specifically to the recently-held march‚the interview seemed to have significantly revolved around Bushiri – and that it highlighted his practices extensively.
It said that since Bushiri and the topic of false prophets had been long standing controversial issues of public importance‚ this was a reason enough to have allowed Bushiri to stay on to give him the right of reply.
The commission ordered that the SABC afford Bushiri the right to reply. The BCCSA documents do not stipulate by when this must happen.
SEE ALSO BELOW:
Unholy war over #BushiriMustFall
Hawks probe Bushiri as R15m a month leaves SA
Unholy war over #BushiriMustFall
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church has hauled organisers of a protest against “fake prophets” to the high court in a bid to stop the march.
Bushiri’s lawyers, B Rikhotso Attorneys, filed the papers on Friday against the protest themed “March Against Fake Prophets”, scheduled for Wednesday. The Malawian-born prophet is also demanding an apology from the organisers.
Organisers Charles Farai, Solomon Ashoms and Martins Antonio will first have to battle it out in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria tomorrow for their march to the SA Human Rights Commission in Parktown, Johannesburg, to go ahead.
In court papers, Bushiri asked the court to stop the march, arguing that the protest pamphlets were “libellous”.
Bushiri, in his founding affidavit, argued that the #BushiriMustFall that
appears in one of the pamphlets written alongside #No manipulation, suggested that he was “deceiving and manipulating” his congregants.
The prophet preaches to about 100 000 congregants in Pretoria West every Sunday.
“This campaign comprises gratuitous and patently false statements intended to malign my reputation. Whatever reason the respondents might have, this campaign has gone too far,” Bushiri stated.
He said the march was meant to solely defame him.
Antonio, who is behind the #BushiriMustFall hashtag, said he’s been using this since last year March to “expose Bushiri” for allegedly breaking down his marriage.
“Last year Bushiri made a prophecy to my wife, saying my mother is a witch . that caused trauma to me and my kids and became a big issue,” Antonio said yesterday.
Ashoms said they were in the process of filing their responding papers ahead of tomorrow’s court hearing.
“This is a march for victims of false prophets … we have victims who’ve been raped by a bishop coming all the way from Kroonstad to be part of this march,” Ashoms said.
However, Rikhotso Attorneys said in a statement to Sowetan that Antonio has had an “antagonistic attitude” which began “ever since his wife was prophesied by our client first time she visited our client church”.
“In expressing their views, the respondents cannot be allowed to violate our client’s rights … Our client does not wish to stifle debate of, and public awareness around, false prophets. Nor does our client seek to use litigation as a weapon in terrorem to bully the respondents into submission.”
Hawks probe Bushiri as R15m a month leaves SA
The police’s elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks, is investigating charismatic prophet Shepherd Bushiri for money laundering after members of the church leadership claimed he was sending an estimated R15-million a month to Malawi, his country of birth.
The money is allegedly transported out of South Africa in Bushiri’s private jet and other vehicles.
Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed they have launched a money laundering probe into the Major One, as Bushiri calls himself, but did not confirm the amounts.
“The matter has been brought to our attention. However, it is still in its infancy stage. It is against our policy to divulge information on any of our investigations,” said Mulaudzi.
Bushiri, who runs the charismatic Enlightened Christian Gathering church that has several branches in the country and in other southern African countries, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
His lawyer Bright Rikhotso said he could not comment as he was not aware of the probe.
A Hawks official told Sunday World that Bushiri became a person of interest after witnesses in the church leadership came forward with information.
The official said the church leaders who came forward said the church spirits away about R15-million every month.
“Our investigation also found that when the money arrives in Malawi, it is not taken to any bank there. It gets cleaned illegally into different businesses.”
The official said some of the witnesses were allegedly intimidated by Bushiri and his staff when they wanted their agreed payments for giving false testimonies during church services.
“According to the witnesses, everything that happens in the church is planned. People are bought to testify, they are bought to act sick and crippled and later give testimony that they were healed by prophet Bushiri,” he said.
The official said the whistle was blown when these fake-testimony workers started seeing the money that the church was making out of their testimonies and wanted their fair share.
“It is different people every Sunday. The other witness said she demanded R100000 for testifying about Bushiri’s prayer that helped her get out of ITC blacklisting.
“We all know that it is impossible, but gullible and desperate people believe these things,” he said.
The Hawks official said: “How the money goes through the borders without being reported also is being investigated. This man is taking money from the poor. Many witnesses who came forward told us that some even sell their belongings to get money to pay for miracles.”
According to another source in the church, Bushiri’s five brothers have now opened other branches in Cape Town.
“They also claim to be prophets and they are making money that also gets transported to Malawi,” said the source.
One of the branches of the church draws up to 40000 congregants to its premises at the Pretoria showgrounds.
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