The government of Malawi has agreed to South Africa’s request to extradite popular preacher Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, to face trial in South African courts over money laundering, theft and fraud charges.
The duo escaped South Africa’s borders and later told their followers on social media that they took the decision to flee because their lives were in great danger and they would not have a fair trial.
Malawi’s Information Minister and government spokesperson, Gospel Kazako, said on Monday the documents for the pair’s extradition had been signed by his Homeland Security Minister, Richard Chimwendo Banda.
Kazako stressed, however, that it was up to the courts to decide whether Bushiri and his wife should be arrested and sent to South Africa.
Should an arrest warrant be issued in Malawi, the pair will likely face justice in Malawi first and then will possibly be returned to South Africa.
It was not yet clear if the Bushiris would be arrested and some have suggested the extradition process could take years.
The fugitive preacher who is the founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church has since forfeited his multimillion Rand premises in South Africa after he violated his bail conditions by leaving South Africa.
It is not known how the pair skipped South Africa’s borders undetected although some claim that both the South African and Malawian governments aided them. Both governments have denied the allegations.
The Bushiris’ escape coincided with an official two-day visit by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera to South Africa.
More: Al Jazeera