South Africa: With the US 2020 Presidential Elections just 3 days away the situation on the ground is explosive. None of the candidates is willing to give any inch of ground to their opponent. Donald Trump, the current US President, is running on a Republican ticket while Joe Biden is representing the Democrats. So, who is likely to win these elections.Us presidential elections are held very four years.
The US uses the electoral college system to elect its president. Each state is given a number of votes based on how many members it sends to Congress – House and Senate. A total of 538 electoral college votes are up for grabs. A candidate needs 270 votes to win. In national polls, Joe Biden has been ahead of Donald Trump in most polls since the beginning of the year. He has hovered just above 50% in recent months and has had a 10-point lead on certain occasions.
National polls are a good indicator as to popularity of a candidate across the country, but they’re not necessarily a good way to predict the result of the election.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton led in the polls and won nearly three million extra votes than Donald Trump, but she lost the election- because of the electoral collge system. So winning the most votes doesn’t always win you the election.
Most states nearly always vote the same way, meaning that in reality there are just a handful of states where both candidates stand a chance of winning. These are the places where the election will be won and lost and are known as battleground states. The battleground states in 2020 are the following:
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Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pensylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Joe Biden is leading in almost all the states except for Iowa and Texas, where Donald Trump leads.
The two candidates held two debates in the run-up to this year’s elections, with the first debate taking place on September 29, 2020 and the second and last on October 22. 2020. Corona virus has dominated US public debates since the start of 2020.
There was only a couple of days to consider the first debate before President Trump’s tweet in the early hours of 02 October 2020 revealing that he and the first lady had tested positive for corona virus.
The focus had shifted to the Supreme Court after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September. President Trump insisted that a replacement for the judge be appointed before the elections.
So President Trump’s positive corona virus test put his response to the pandemic, back under the spotlight. This issue dominated the second debate with President Trump arguing that they need to re-open the economy as there will be no nation left if people are kept locked up. Saying that the Democratic States which had decided to close are struggling the most. He gave an example of New York city and said that it had lost up to 40 000 and referred to it as a ghost town.
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Joe Biden on the other hand said that the President failed to respond appropriately when he knew about the virus in January 2020. He failed to inform Americans about how dangerous the virus was when he learnt about because he did not want Americans to panic. That he is not advocating a complete shut down of the economy but that the country should be re-open with adequate support.
On political interference by foreign nations, President Trump said that Joe Biden received $3 million from the mayor of Moscow and he is probably still receiving money from Russia. While Joe Biden disputed this and accused Trump of having a secret account in China and he is refusing to release his tax returns. Trump said that he has been told by his accountant that he has actually paid his taxes in advance. That he has been persecuted more than any other President in US history. Joe Biden said that the only guy who made money from Ukraine and China is this guy, referring to President Trump. President admitted having opened an account in China in 2013 as, like everybody else, he wanted to do business there, nut he decided to close it in 2015 as he no longer wanted to do business there anymore.
Both of them said that they would make China to pay for the damage caused by their lack of transparency with the corona virus, with President Trump saying that he had already made China to pay and they were forced to devalue their currency in order to pay and he used the money to support US farmers.
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On North Korea, President Trump says that when he took over the White House, former President Barack Obama said down with him and told him that North Korea was the single biggest problem facing the US. In 3 months he managed to work out a plan and North Korea is no longer a threat. While the World was at the brink of a nuclear war at the end of the Obama presidency, that threat has been eliminated.
President Trump says that the Obama Care is not good for Americans and that it should be replaced and that Joe Biden wants to introduce a socialist health care. While Joe Biden said that the difference between him and the President is that he regards medicare as a right and not as a privilege. That he will introduce more affordable health care.
On race relations, President Trump said that no one has done more for the black community than Donald Trump. He said that he is the least racist person in the room.
It appears that President Donald Trump cannot be written off until the last vote is cast. Very soon we will learn who the next president of the United States of America is.
South Africa: After a brief court appearance in Pretoria on Monday, 02 November 2020, the bail application of the leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), his wife Mary and 3 other accused, was postponed once again to Wednesday 04 November 2020 for judgement on the bail application.
During the bail application. the State argued that the accused are likely to evade standing trial should they be released on bail as they are facing serious charges involving amounts totaling over R100 million. The immovable property allegedly owned by the accused is not sufficient to bind them to remain in South Africa as these properties are burdened with debt and shall not be sufficient incentive for the accused to stand their trial. In respect of the 4th and 5th accused, the Sparkling Waters Hotel & Spa in Rustenburg has been used as security for debt amounting to over R200 million.
The accused do not have any strong family ties in the Republic and have since secretly removed some of their movable assets out of the Republic. The accused are self declared millionaires and any amount of bail that the court may determine shall not be sufficient hindrance for them to stand trial as they can easily afford to forfeit it. Although the accused have since handed in their travel documents to the investigating officers, that fact alone will not be adequate deterrence for them to escape bail as the accused can easily obtain other travel documents with the network of supporters available to them. The accused do not need to cross the country in order to evade trial. They may simply disappear within the borders of the Republic in order to frustrate the commencement or finalisation of their trial. It is not enough for the accused to merely say that they have a defence against the charges leveled against them. They must actually state what their defence is.
The State further argued that the accused are likely to interfere with or unduly influence state witnesses in the matter especially because the identity of the complainants can easily be established by the accused as they provided their names, addresses and identity numbers when the investments were made.
The Court wanted to know why the State did not oppose bail in February 2019 when accused 4 & 5 appeared in the other matter as the information available to the State then is the same as it is now. The State said that at the time of the previous bail application in February 2019, the State was labouring under the impression that the accused were in possession of valid travel documents or residence permits. It has since appeared that the Department of Home Affairs is challenging the validity of accused 4 & 5’s residence permits. The charges that the accused faced then were less serious than the present charges regarding being had to the amounts involved.
On behalf of accused 2, it was argued that she has a 9 month old baby who is still on breast milk and needs its mother for survival. That the court should consider alternatives to confinement in the interests of the children. The state’s argument is that accused 2 is being denied bail on the grounds that she is married to accused 1, who was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport while attempting to board an outbound plane.
On behalf of accused 4 & 5, counsel argued that even though additional serious charges were added to their previous case which is due for trial in May 2021, this did not induce them to flee. They continued to attend court whenever they were required to do so. All the accused would have handed themselves over to the police, had the police not ignored the arrangements that were made between them and the accused’s legal representatives. At this stage of the proceedings, the accused have a right to remain silent with regards to the merits of the case, especially so because the state has failed to provide sufficient particulars with regards to the charges that the accused are facing. The accused have shown that they are reliable in attending court as they have done in the past. The state has tried to mislead the court by alleging that one of the accused has failed to hand in one of their passports while the state should have been aware that that passport has already expired. That accused 1 & 2 are owners of immovable property in South Africa should be considered in their favour. That with regards to the alleged debt concerning the Sparkling Waters Hotel & Spa in Rustenburg, that there is currently an application for rescission of judgment. Accused 4 & 5 have a huge congregation in South Africa and not likely to abandon them merely to abscond trial.
The case was postponed to Wednesday , 04 November 2020 at 10 am for the Court to deliver judgment in respect of the bail application by accused 2, 4,5 & 6. Accused 1 has not brought any formal bail application. All accused to remain in custody until then.
The bail application by Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his co-accused continued on Friday 30 October 2020 in the Pretoria Magistrates’ court. The application could, however, not be finalised and it was postponed to Monday, 02 November 2020 for further arguments by the State. Accused obtained the services of a new legal representative before the start of the proceedings on Friday.
The State is strenuously opposing the bail application and at first objected to the legal representatives for accused 4 to 6 as there may possibly be a conflict of interest as the legal representatives were involved in another investment scheme at the branch of the church in Phalaborwa. The legal representatives said that they are satisfied that there is no conflict of interest and that the two cases are not related and that they may proceed to represent the accused. The State submitted a lengthy affidavit by the Hawks in which they raise several grounds for opposing bail amongst others, that:
The defence was adamant that the State has got no valid grounds for denying the accused bail and that the two minor children of accused 4 and 5 are currently in South Africa and were with their mother at the time of her arrest and that Prophet Bushiri has got family ties binding him to South Africa. That the State was in possession of the same facts when the accused were granted bail in a previous case and the State did not object to the release on bail then. It is not clear who was defrauded in the case as the State does not mention that. The money laundering case has got no foundation. It will be in the interest of justice if the accused are released on bail. Subsequent to their release on bail previously, the accused attended court regularly without fail. Why would they now suddenly decide to evade their trial.
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Large crowds of members of ECG Church filled the streets around the court house praying and singing songs in support of their leader alleging that the case against Major 1, as he is popularly known, are a mere fabrication and a campaign to discredit him. They vowed not to leave the streets until Major 1 has been released on bail. The State on the other hand alleges that ECG is a non-profit organisation and that it was not supposed to be taking investments from its members and that accused 4, who is Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, operated under Shepherd Bushiri Investments and created Forex trading platforms and promised members that they will never lose their monies and that they will make millions while they sit back and enjoy coffee.
The Court has indicated that it may not be possible for the Court to give judgment on the bail application on 02 November 2020. So it is unlikely that the accused will know their fate regarding their bail application soon. They were, therefor, all remanded in custody.
The EFF CIC, Julius Malema appeared in the Randburg magistrate’s court together with EFF MP, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, for a second day in a row on charges of assault against SA Police colonel Johannes Venter. Colonel Venter was today cross-examined by the legal representative for the accused, Adv Lourence Hodes who tried to punch holes in the evidence led by the Colonel in chief. Amongst others, he put itto the witness that the motor vehicle in which Mr Malema and Ndlozi were travelling had permission to enter the graveyard and that colonel Venter was wrong in preventing them to enter.
Yesterday, Colonel Venter testified that he was deployed with the police unit responsible for the protection of the President and stationed at the entrance to the graveyard. His orders were that he should only allow the President and the Mandela Family’s motorcades to enter the grave site. He stated further that Mr Malema’s vehicle had no permission to enter and that when he tried to stop it from entering, that is when a struggle ensued between him and Mr Malema and Dr Ndlozi.
There was drama on Thursday when Mr Malema and Dr Ndlozi started an argument with a white gentleman who was seated in the courtroom next to the accused dock following the proceedings. They accused him of interfering with witnesses and asked him to leave as he was blocking their way. When he stood his ground and accused them of intimidating him, the police had to intervene and asked him to take another seat.
Mr Malema’s legal representative, Adv Hodes, is a white person. Mr Malema is well-known for his rhetoric attacking whites. He has been criticised in the media for choosing a white advocate to represent him when he advises black people not to have anything to do with white South Africans.
EFF members turned out in their numbers and were waiting outside the court, where Malema addressed them after the matter was postponed. He defended his appointment of a white counsel to represent him after he was criticised on social media for cotradicting his own position, saying that his struggle is not against white South Africans, but against racist whites and that his struggle is an international struggle and not a tribalistic one. What many people were asking is whether this could mean a change in policy by the EFF from its divisive approach towards race relations, to a more moderate and accommodative approach to other races.He said that he is not worried about the outcome of the case as he is confident of victory when it is finalised. His concern at the moment is to win in the upcoming by-elections and local government elections. He further turned his attention to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and said that Zondo should address him directly if he needs him to clarify anything as he has nothing to hide. This apparently after the State Capture Commission notified its intention to subpoena the bank statements of several political figures and their families, including the EFF leader and former president Jacob Zuma, in an effort to discover the true extent of the state capture.
The case was postponed to 09 March 2021 for further hearing.
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THE MURDER AT PAUL ROUX, FREE STATE, SOUTH AFRICA : On the evening of Thursday, 01 October 2020, Brendin Horner was murdered at the gates of De Rots, the farm near Paul Roux, Eastern Free State , South Africa, where he was employed as a farm manager. Two suspects, Sekwetje Isaiah Mahlamba and Sekola Piet Matlaletsa, were arrested on 03 October 2020 for the gruesome murder of the young farmer. One of the accused, Piet Matlaletsa, has already been granted bail in the amount of R5 000.00 by the magistrate’s court on the grounds that there is not enough evidence at this stage linking him with the commission of the crime. Brendin was only 21 years of age at the time of his murder, a young and hard working farmer with a bright future ahead of him. Although the suspects have denied liability for the murder, the state prosecutor has told the court that the accused had boosted to their friends at a local tavern in Fateng tse Ntsho township near Paul Roux, about attacking a white man shortly after the murder. The clothes of one of the accused were found with blood stains and were seized by the police. Clothes belonging to the second accused were found to have been freshly washed.
THE PLIGHT OF WHITE FARMERS IN SOUTH AFRICA: White farmers are under siege in South Africa to say the least. The murder of Brendin Horner once again focused the spotlight on their plight in South Africa. They appear to be disproportionately targeted by criminal elements taking the number of white farmers into account. All measures that the farmers are taking on their own to beef up security on farms appear to be ineffective against the criminal gangs. The criminals can easily disguise themselves as bona fide farm workers and pounce when the farmer least expect it. The farmers also do not have adequate resources to take complete security precautions.The murders are taking place all over the country and at such an alarming rate that the government and the police appear to be clueless on how to tackle the scourge. Speaking on SAFM, Free State MEC for Agriculture, Mr William Bulwana, said that since the police have acknowledged that they do not have adequate resources to curb farm attacks, he has discussed the security situation with the farmers and they agreed to re-introduce the commando system, where the farmers themselves form patrol units, to supplement the services provided by the police. The farmers or Boers, as they prefer to be called. have been using the commando system to defend themselves since their arrival in South Africa about 370 years ago. They used the system with great success during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The commandos consists of a local militia with a right to bear arms and can be mobilised within minutes when the security of the local area required them to do so. The commandos are headed by a commandant, who reports to a general responsible for four commandos, who in turn reports to the General of the Defence Force, the SANDF, who reports to the head of state. The commandos at local level are deployed under the supervision of the local police. The commandos were abolished in 2003 and replaced with the police forums which were designed to be inclusive of black and white citizens. However, the farmers have not fully benefited from the police forums as these are more suited for urban deployment. The farmers still believe that the commandos were a much better organised system for the rural areas. Since the abolition of the commandos, attacks on farmers have sky-rocketed with many of them resulting in the torture, rape and murder of the victims.
THE MOTIVES FOR THE MURDERS: In the majority of the farm attacks, the victims are white and the perpetrators are black men between the ages of 18 and 56 which raises the question as to what the psychology of the murderers is. There are instances where black farm workers have also been attacked. In the Brendin Horner case, the two accused are said to have boosted about attacking a white man on a farm the next day at a tavern. The farmers believe that the attackers were part of a stock theft syndicate and Brendin may have surprised them in the act. In nearly all of the cases, robbery is a motive for the attack. However, there are some farmers who believe that the attacks may be politically motivated as in some cases, the attackers would break into a farm house and when they find the owners absent, they wait for them to return and attack them. Most farms are isolated and it takes a while before any help can arrive even when the farmers were able to raise the alarm during an attack.
REACTION BY ORGANISED AGRICULTURE: Organisations representing farmers, such as Afriforum, have said that this is genocide and have called on the international community to intervene on behalf of the farmers as the South African government appears to be having no political will to tackle the problem. The problem appears to be exacerbated by the rhetoric of political parties and organisations to the left of the political spectrum who appear to be using hate language against the farmers and linking the attack on farmers with the with the issue of land redistribution in South Africa.These parties may appear to be supportive of the perpetrators of the crimes as when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) organised a march into Senekal during the appearance of the two accused in court with the aim of opposing the protesting farmers in that town.This appears to be leaving the government paralysed because they cannot prioritize farm murders when there are other forms of crime that are also out of control. The government in turn, has accused these organisations of unnecessarily stirring up problems for South Africa.
Paul Roux, FREE STATE: Paul Roux was established as a poskoets (post coach) station and officially proclaimed on 09 May 1909 and was named after a well-known Dutch Reformed Church leader- Reverend Paul Roux, with the first church being built at the height of the First World War in May 1914 and only completed in October 1917. The first school in Paul Roux was established on 08 October 1912 with 52 pupils and Mr HJJ van Rensburg as its principal. Former state President, PW Botha, was born on the farm Telegraaf in Paul Roux on 12 January 1916. He started school in Paul Roux and proceeded to Bethlehem where he matriculated. Other famous residents of Paul Roux include artists, Peter van Reenen, Anton Grove’, Wiets van Rensburg, Hanli de Lange, Namma Brits, Josaia Mosias, Rosemarie Schutze and Edward van der Berg. The magistrates’ court for Paul Roux is situated at Senekal.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE FARM ATTACKS: When the commando system was still in place until 2003, there were virtually no farm murders. Which goes to show that the system was effective in curbing the farm attacks. Whoever came up with the idea of disbanding the system clearly had no vision on the subject of farm attacks. As a result of the farm attacks, young people who were considering farming as a career have abandoned their plans as they feel that the risks are too high. This resulted in the number of commercial farmers declining from 120 000 in 1997 to about 30 000, today putting the country at risk for food shortages. It is time that South Africans unite in support of the farmers and take a stand against criminals. Those who choose to support the criminals are an embarrassment to this beautiful country. The truth is that South Africa needs its farmers to keep on working the land and support the economy.
Whatever the situation is, it appears that the re-introduction of the commando system, as it was done in the Free State, is the answer for the farmers. Dr Theo de Jager, President of the International Farmers’ Association addressed the farmers in Senekal. He said to them that: ” We are on our own. We can expect no assistance from the government.” These are very strong words indeed, but probably true. The police minister, General Bheki Cele, also visited the farming community in Senekal. He promised that his department will take drastic action against criminal elements terrorising the farming community. Perhaps it is time that South Africa look at the re-introduction of the death penalty to try and confront violent crime. It may have been an error of judgment to abolish it as we did then.
Leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 26 October 2020, together with his wife Mary and three co-accused when the matter was postponed to Friday, 30 October 2020 for accused 1, Willah Joseph Mudolo, to furnish reasons why he should be released on bail.The postponement is also to enable the state to present its evidence against the bail applications of all five accused and for judgment. The reason for the lengthy postponement is that the court is not available on the other days.
Earlier in the day, accused 2, Zethu Mudolo, who is accused 1’s wife, presented evidence through an affidavit stating that she is innocent of all the charges against her and that she believed that she will be acquitted of all charges when the matter eventually goes on trial. She stated further that, it is not in the interest of justice for her to be kept in custody as she has two minor children, one of whom is nine months old, breastfeeding, to look after.
Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo are the directors of Rising Estate, an investment company allegedly at the center of the investment scheme through which investments valued at 102 million rands from ECG members were channeled. The matters came to the attention of the South African Police when some church members, who made the investments, complained that they were not receiving their returns as promised since 2017.
Accused no 6, Lindiwe Ntlokwana, stated in court papers that she is self employed as a financial consultant with a Master of Commerce Degree from the University of Cape Town and runs her own financial literacy firm, GTT Wealth. She states further that she has volunteered her accountancy skills to the Church on a part time basis.
Supporters of Prophet Bushiri once again arrived in their thousands to support him during his court appearance on Monday 26 October 2020. The bail applications will proceed on Friday, 30 October 2020. The accused will remain in police custody. In the meantime, the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has stated on radio that the permanent residence permits of Prophet Sherpherd Bushiri and his wife appear to have been granted unlawfully as the Hawks have drawn their attention to certain discrepancies in the applications for the permits, which would make the Bushiris to be illegal in South Africa. The state is likely to raise this issue when it responds to the application for bail on the 30th of October 2020.
Order to Remain in Custody: Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary were ordered by the Pretoria commercial crimes court to remain in police custody over the weekend as they fight to be released on bail in a matter where they are accused of fraud and money laundering involving an amount in the region of ZAR102 million. The bail application could not be finalised on Friday 23 October 2020 as the court’s time was primarily occupied by an application for the media to be granted permission to broadcast the proceedings live from the court. The media application was eventually granted and the bail application proceeded. Major 1 submitted an affidavit in support of his application to be released on bail in which he submitted that he is not a flight risk as he has got assets and a fixed residential address in South Africa and in any event, his travel documents are in the custody of the police and he has no intention of avoiding his trial as he has not tried to do so with the other matter which is pending before the courts and has been postponed for trial on 31 May 2021. Mary Bushiri also filed an affidavit with the court in which she maintains her innocence and challenged the State show the court how she is linked to the business from which the charges allegedly arose. The matter was postponed to Monday 26 October 2020 for further hearing. Both Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri would remain in custody and likely to be held at Kgosi Mampuru Maximum Prison.
Prophet Bushiri’s supporters: Prophet Bushiri’s supporters attended court in large numbers and they vowed to return to court on 26 October 2020 to support him and his wife. They maintained that prophet Bushiri is innocent of the charges leveled against him and that the truth will eventually prevail and he will be cleared of all charges against him. Further that Major 1 is a pastor and a businessman and cannot be treated like a criminal, and that there is actually a plot against him by some people. In any event that Major 1 is prepared to co-operate with the authorities in their investigations into the allegations leveled against him.
Prophet Bushiri’s TRIAL IN CONTEXT: Jesus said that “they will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” In the next article, we will be drawing comparisons between the trials of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and that of the founder of the Christian Movement, Jesus of Nazareth, in 33 AD, his appearance before the Sanhedrin, the transfer of the case to Pontius Pilate, his brief appearance before Herod Antipas, his conviction and sentence to crucifixion, the persecution of Christians particularly during the reign of Emperor Nero in 50 AD (there are accounts which state that the apostles Peter and Paul were killed in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero), the Battle of the Milvian Bridge between Roman Emperors Constantine 1 and Maxentius on 28 October 312 AD, Jesus’ appearance to Constantine in a vision during the battle, the resultant complete victory of Emperor Constantine, recognition of Christianity as a State religion within the Roman Empire, (the edict of Thesalonica in AD 380) the signing of the Edict of Milan (latin: Edictum Mediolanense) in February 313 AD between the Western Roman Emperor Constantine and Emperor Licinius, who controlled the Balkans, in which they agreed to end all hostilities towards and persecutions of Christians within the whole of the Roman Empire. The edict forms part of South African common law and Christians are entitled to rely on it to prevent prosecution of religious activities.
The Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria turned down an application by the leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) on Wednesday, 21 October 2020, to be released on bail following his arrest and detention by the Hawks on Tuesday 20 October 2020. Prophet Bushiri was arrested together with his wife, Mary, and others, on allegations of fraud and money laundering. Prophet Bushiri has denied the allegations against him. The State is opposing the release of the accused on bail and the matter has been postponed to Friday, 23 October 2020 for a further bail hearing. In court, a dispute arose between the State and the defence regarding the permanent residence permits issued by the Department of Home Affairs to Prophet Bushiri and his wife Mary, the State alleging that the permits had been withdrawn by Home Affairs on the grounds that they were issued in error. Prophet Bushiri is challenging the withdrawal of the permits in the High Court. The defence argued that it appears that the Hawks rushed in to effect an arrest before they had completed their investigations.
A large number of supporters of Major 1, as he is popularly known, gathered outside the court to show their support and solidarity with their leader. Most had traveled long distances to be at court on time. They said that Major 1 had done nothing wrong and that they will stand by him all the way. When the matter was postponed, Major 1 was visibly disappointed that they could not be granted bail and at the prospect of spending two more nights in police custody. ECG Spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo said that they are obviously disappointed that the State has decided to oppose bail and that they hoped that the court will grant bail on Friday, 23 October 2020.
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The arrest of Major 1 relates to an investment scheme amounting to about 100 million rands through a company known as Rising Estate of which Mr and Mrs Willah and Zethu Mudolo are directors. They wre also arrested at OR Tambo International Airport by the Hawks on Saturday 17 October 2020,. They appeared in Court on Monday 19 October 2020 and their matter was postponed to 30 October 2020 for a formal bail hearing.
Prophet Bushiri and his wife are due to appear in Court on 31 May 2021 for trial in another pending matter.
In the latest news from Pretoria, South Africa, the elite police unit, the Hawks, have arrested Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary in relation to an investment scheme amounting to ZAR102 000 000.00. The arrest took place on Tuesday, 20 October 2020. Hawks spokesperson, Col Katlego Mogale has confirmed that a pastor has been arrested for fraud and money laundering, together with another woman and her husband, Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo, who were arrested at OR Tambo International Airport. The pair has already appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s court and their case was postponed to 30 October 2020 for a formal bail application.
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ECG spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo, confirmed that the Hawks had made an appointment with Prophet Bushiri and his wife Mary to report at the police station on Tuesday 20 October 2020 at 11am to discuss a matter concerning an investment company known as Rising Estate, but the Hawks arrived at the Prophet’s house before the appointed time and arrested Prophetess Mary Bushiri. After Mary’s arrest, Prophet Bushiri went to the Hawks’ offices in Pretoria, accompanied by his lawyers, where he handed himself in.
The Bushiris are still facing another pending case in South Africa’s capital relating to an arrest by the Hawks on 01 February 2019 for fraud and money laundering as well as contravention of South Africa’s Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). They were each granted bail amounting to R100 000.00 on condition that thy surrender their passports and remain in Gauteng for the duration of the trial. They could only travel with the permission of the investigating officers The trial is due to commence on 31 May 2021 and will continue until 18 June 2021 when it is expected to be finalised.
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Prophet Paseka ‘Mboro’ Motsoeneng and Bushiri were recently involved in a legal battle in which Prophet Bushiri was trying to obtain an interdict to stop Mboro and one Felicia Sibeko from publishing false statements about him. Felicia had claimed that she invested an amount of R130 000.00 in his gold forex and commodities scheme and that she has lost the money. Bushiri claimed in court papers that he did not take her money and that he too was a victim of the scheme as he also invested money and lost it as he discovered later that the scheme was not legitimate. Following Bushiri’s arrest, Mboro said that he was trying to save Bushiri’s soul and not to harm him.
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I am writing this article with a very painful heart. Certain creditors are really out of this world. If it was only this one incident, I would have given the creditor the benefit of the doubt. But this harassment is repeated time and again. Perhaps someone from the side of the credit grantors would explain this odd behaviour by some creditors. It cannot be a fear of loss that drives a creditor to harass a debtor in the manner that these creditor does.
It so happened that I am indebted to T, a clothing and cellphone store operating in South Africa. In the middle of the covid 19 lockdown in May 2020, all clothing shops and all non-essential businesses were closed for the duration of the level 5 lockdown. So, even though I would have liked to pay my account with T, I couldn’t because T was closed as a result of the lockdown. I was surprised one morning at 7 am when I received a call from a certain guy who claimed to represent T. He said that he noticed that I missed my payments during April and May 2020. I confirmed and told him that the reasons were that:
His response was that T was going to blacklist me and that I must take the money that I have reserved for food during the lockdown or make a loan from the bank and go and pay T, and that I should go to the bank and pay there or at any supermarket as he also had no clue when T was going to re-open to accept payments at their stores.
I told him that he was asking me to break the lockdown rules and risk contracting covid 19 merely to satisfy T’s love for money. He said that I should apply for a permit at the police station so that I can go to the bank. I told him that the police will not grant me a permit to perform non-essential activities and that if I told them that he is pressurising me to ignore the lockdown regulations, the police are likely to lay a criminal charge against him for inciting a person to commit an offence. He dropped the phone and said that T will call me again until I make the payment.
I swore that I would never buy anything from T again. When the lockdown was relaxed and T was allowed to re-open, I went and settled my account. Unfortunately, my child’s cellphone was broken and T was the only store where I could find a phone. I was forced to buy there again.
True to its nature, T phones you at odd hours. They phone you before you miss a payment just to remind you that your payment is due in three weeks’ time. They send you the most odd and unsolicited messages. They also threaten you with legal action and blacklisting if you can miss the payment that is due in three weeks’ time. They phone again after you have made payment just to tell you that you have made a short payment . They call you from all over the country. From Johannesburg, Cape Town, Mpumalanga, Durban, Bloemfontein. After you finish paying them, they call you and send you sms’s to come and make more debt. They offer you ZAR1000 if you make a new debt.
T is the mother of all harassment. I am sure that there are thousands of other people who find themselves in a similar situation. I am writing this article to vent my anger as I do not know what to do with T anymore. The best solution that I have come up with is to no longer buy anything on credit from T. Is that not the best option?
Another irritating experience is from bank S, with whom I have a revolving credit facility. I receive a call on my cellphone very early on a Monday morning at approximately 7 am. The gentleman says that he wants to speak to me, but before he does so he would like to go through some security questions to see if he is speaking to the right person. The first question he asks me is what my cellphone number is. This first question upsets me so much because he just called me on my cellphone, so he has the number, and I am preparing to get to work and I am late. What could be the reason for him to ask me such a stupid question. I try to remain calm and answer all the silly questions he asks, which sounds like they are computerised as every agent from bank S will ask you the same questions. He goes on bubbling about my Id number, landline, physical address, email address. My attempts to prompt him to come to the purpose of the call are ignored, until 15 minutes later when he tells me the reason for the call being that he notices that I am in arrears with payments on my facility. I ask him what the arrears are and he tells me the amount which is less than what I paid via inter-account transfer three days earlier. I calmly ask him whether he can see the payment that I made three days ago to which he says I should hold on while he checks. A few seconds later, he confirms that he can see the payment. I then ask him whether the account is still in arrears and he says no. I then ask him what the reason for the call was and he says that he just wants to know when can he expect the next payment and he carries on a long lecture about credit bureaus, blacklisting and my future creditworthiness being affected by late payments. By this time I have already lost 25 minutes of my precious time which I desperately need to get ready for work and I ask myself from where does bank S recruit these clowns. Not once does he apologise for calling me so early in the morning for payment that was made a few days earlier. I politely ask him to check the statements before he makes a call in future. Without any shame he still asks me to hold on while he transfers me so that I can rate the quality of the call. I hold on and he tries to transfer the call but fails and it cuts us off while he is trying. It is obvious that the guy has either not received any training at all on the job that he is doing or he absconded from the training if S bank did provide the training. A few years earlier, S bank used to act with such professionalism that you enjoyed doing business with them. That seems to have been thrown out of the window in favour of mass production.
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That, ladies and gentlemen, is the frustrations that we have to endure on a daily basis and I am sure that, that is enough reason to persuade you to do your best to settle your accounts to avoid getting high blood pressure while attending to these calls. This article is not only meant to share with other credit receivers about these harassments, but also directed at credit providers to try and be professional in their dealings with their clients and not unleash these unwarranted attacks on their most precious clients at the risk of alienating them.
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