Shepherd Bushiri’s co-accused, businessman Willah Mudolo, on Thursday told the Pretoria magistrate’s court he intended pleading not guilty to fraud, theft and money-laundering to the tune of R100m.

“I will stand my trial, particularly having regard to the fact that I am confident that I will be acquitted on all the charges should the matter go to trial.

“I intend to plead not guilty and will provide evidence to the state that any and all funds that [were] paid into the business account of Rising Estates (Pty) Ltd, without my knowledge but on instructions of Mr Shepherd Bushiri, was repaid to the nominated account of Mr Shepherd Bushiri and various beneficiaries,” said Mudolo’s legal representative, advocate JP Marais.

The bail application will continue on December 8.

Mudolo appeared in court with his wife, Zethu, and Lindiwe Ntlokwana. The bail application continued without Bushiri and his wife, Mary, who skipped the country last month,  thus contravening their bail conditions.

The South African government is in the process of securing the Bushiris extradition from Malawi and investigating the circumstances surrounding their escape.

The escape coincided with the Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera’s diplomatic visit, fuelling speculation that the couple may have jetted off with Chakwera.

The Malawian government has vehemently denied that the Bushiris left the country with Chakwera.

Theledi granted Mudolo a motion to reopen his bail application after he had changed his legal representation and wanted to provide the court with further information.

Reading out Mudolo’s fresh affidavit, Marais said, “Once my attorney obtained the file contents from my previous attorneys, it was noted from my affidavit that there are certain mistakes that need to be rectified and that certain information has not been placed before court.”

He told the court that he was a lawful holder of a Zambian passport and has been working in SA since 2014. Mudolo purchased immovable property in Sandhurst in 2016.

“I applied for financial independent permit as I provided proof of my financial capability on which the department of home affairs issued a waiver on September 11 2017 allowing me to reside with my wife Zethu Onodwa Mudolo, and conduct work with African Development Group Pty Ltd … ”

He said the value of his immovable property, which is also the residence of his family, including his two children, was confirmed to be between R23m and R25m. The bond registered over the property of R10m has been paid off and he intended to pledge the premises as security to secure his bail.

He confirmed that he was arrested on October 17 and had been detained in Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Facility.

“As I am co-accused in the matter with four other accused of which my wife is accused number two, I intend to stand my trial and prove my innocence against the serious charges against me … ”

He said did not have any influence or alliances in his country of origin and has never tried to flee SA or evade trial.

“As two of the accused people in this matter have indeed left SA, it is unknown when these two accused people will be extradited to stand their trial and when the trial will commence. This may take a period of between two to seven years.”

He said he intended complying with any additional bail conditions and would attend his trial until its conclusion.

Earlier the court heard that Mudolo was in the country illegally after his visitor’s visa expired in April.

Source: TimesLive

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