A court in Malawi rejected yet another application by the controversial couple, Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary. Last week, the Bushiris' lawyer applied for extradition proceedings to be heard as civil and not criminal proceedings.
The defence also says the extradition request is incomplete as the South African government has not provided documentary evidence. The court has ruled that the case will continue being tried as a criminal case.
The couple fled South Africa while on bail in November. They were facing multiple charges, including fraud and money laundering.
"The law, the way its cast in the extradition act is for the sole effect that it is the matter of preliminary inquiry, it is not a trial, that is how the law is – we have argued that in court and it will be for the honourable court to make a decision," Malawian Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni told the media after court proceedings on Monday.
The pair, who appeared in the Lilongwe Magistrate's Court on Monday, are wanted in South Africa in connection with fraud and money laundering, allegedly to the tune of R102 million.
They, however, fled the country to their homeland just a few days after the Pretoria Central Magistrate's Court granted them bail of R200 000 each under strict conditions.
South Africa subsequently sent a formal extradition request, which was received by the Malawian government in December.
The extradition hearing was supposed to begin and be finalised on 8 March but has been met with several delays.
During proceedings on Monday, the court heard several issues being raised by the defence, namely that witnesses, whose statements are included in the extradition documents, should be summoned to ensure a fair hearing, "if indeed they do exist".
The court however heard from the State that this was not a trial and, therefore, it was not necessary to bring witnesses.
The State further argued that this would subject the Bushiris to two trials and that the documents sent by South Africa should be treated as evidence.
"They argued otherwise, but we believe that preliminary inquiry's have specific way in which they are processed," Kayuni said.
The court also heard arguments on other issues, like authenticity of documents, what is a preliminary inquiry, whether witnesses should be in court, and the legal instruments being used.
The court is expected to rule on the above issue on Monday 29 March.
During a previous court appearance, the court was asked to determine on the issue of whether the extradition matter involving the Bushiri's should be treated as civil or criminal in nature.
On Monday, presiding Magistrate Patrick Chirwa ruled that the case would continue to be treated as a criminal case and that the State should provide the defence with the South African documents within the next seven days.
"That has a very [great] significance, because there is a difference between the criminal process vs the civil process and, with the way our justice system is, it is in such a way that a criminal matter is processed faster that a civil matter.
"Further to that, what are the issues before the court? If the issues have to deal with criminality, it is a criminal matter, if it has to do with civility of persons, then it is a civil matter. The issues before the honourable court, the court has already decided they have criminal elements," Kayuni said.
When News24 approached Bushiri's lawyer, Wapona Kita, for comment over their request for SA witnesses to be summoned to Malawi, Kita responded: "It's what the law requires."
The Bushiris return to court on Monday.