'I intend to plead not guilty': Bushiri's co-accused in battle for bail

Willah Mudolo will be back in court in SA on December 14, the same day Sheperd and Mary Bushiri are expected to appear in court in Malawi.
Willah Mudolo will be back in court in SA on December 14, the same day Sheperd and Mary Bushiri are expected to appear in court in Malawi.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The legal representative of one of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s co-accused will have his work cut out in pleading his client's case for bail.

Advocate JP Marais, acting for Willah Mudolo, is scheduled to start cross-examination of investigating officer Col Daniel Marais in the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

This comes after Marais testified on Monday how the Hawks had built a solid case against Mudolo.

Mudolo, his wife Zethu, Bushiri, his wife Mary and Landiwe Ntlokwane were arrested on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering involving about R100m related to a supposed investment scheme.

All of the accused, except Mudolo, are out on bail. While he had previously provisionally withdrawn his bail application, the Zambian national, who authorities said was in the country illegally, decided to apply for bail last week.

While he argues to be released on bail, co-accused Shepherd and Mary Bushiri face an extradition battle after they fled to Malawi just days after paying R400,000 bail.

Malawi granted SA an extradition order for the Bushiris on Monday.

While that was happening, Mudolo was in the dock with his wife and Ntlokwana.

The state has put up a fierce battle against his release on bail with Marais saying the three accused must account for their role in the case.

The court heard on Monday that just days before his arrest, he had tried to flee to Dubai on three occasions.

The first two attempts to leave SA were thwarted when the Hawks warned his lawyer that he had checked into OR Tambo International Airport. He was arrested on his third attempt.

The court also heard the department of correctional services allegedly found three cellphones in his cell at the Kgosi Mampuru prison in Pretoria. One of them allegedly contained incriminating evidence.

The court also heard that Mudolo had lied about his marriage and had different dates of birth in two passports.

Mudolo is hoping that pledging his multimillion-rand property will lead to the court granting him bail.

The Sandhurst property is said to be worth between R23m and R25m.

Marais said he was a flight risk as he had access to vast sums of cash and was seemingly well connected, having previously boasted about being the “next Zambian president”.

Mudolo and his wife laughed as Marais mentioned his “next Zambian president” remarks.

Marais said Mudolo also had a house in Zambia and had strong ties to the UK.

The Zambian national has thus far pleaded innocence, giving an explanation for the money paper trail from his to Bushiri's accounts.

“I intend to plead not guilty,” he told the court.

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