THOUSANDS of people flocked to the Tshwane Events Centre yesterday for the first Sunday service of the controversial Shepherd Bushiri-led Enlightened Christian Gathering church since his release from custody.
Multimillionaire Malawian self proclaimed prophet Bushiri and his wife Mary were granted R100 000 bail each by the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria last week, having been arrested for alleged fraud and money laundering.
The Hawks said they had been investigating the matter since 2015. It was also the first official service since three women died in a stampede in December. The matter is still under investigation.
Yesterday, all four halls were packed to capacity as people from all over the country and from neighbouring states watched and received deliverance via TV screens. Bushiri was in one of the halls.
Unshaken and adamant, his followers said Major 1 or Papa, as the prophet is known, was righteous in their eyes.
The congregants said Bushiri and his wife were innocent.
Last month, the Bushiris appeared before the CRL Rights Commission to explain the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three women.
A huge turnout by his followers outside the court early last week indicated the lengths his followers would go to to support him.
Patricia Molefe said people had to stop making it seem like they were crazy and hypnotised, because Bushiri was a good man who performed miracles in their lives.
“Our Papa is a good man; you can see now thousands of people are here to testify to the miracles he brings. The negativity must stop.”
Another follower of Major 1 said nothing would break the relationship between Bushiri and his flock.
“Look at the screen; people from as far as Zimbabwe are giving their testimonies. So the dark cloud that might have surrounded our Papa and Mama will go away.
“We believe that. We do not believe in what we read in the papers,” said the man, who refused to give his name.
Bushiri told those who couldn’t get into the halls or tents that even though they were not in close proximity, he was close to them – they were breathing the same air as he was.
He said he would deliver them as he didn’t know what had bothered them during his absence.
“I have not been around, therefore I do not trust anything that has happened to you in my absence.”
The couple are due back in court on May 10.
– The Star