She said she only acknowledged the request by the church-man to send food parcels to the province.
Mpumalanga social development MEC Thandi Shongwe on Thursday said that she never issued any permit to Prophet Shepard Bushiri to come to Mpumalanga.
Shongwe said she only “acknowledged” the request by Bushiri to assist the needy, “and saying there were trucks that were stopped on their way to Mpumalanga and that the MEC issued a permit for him to come is sensationalism,” spokesman Comfort Ngobe said Thursday 30 April 2020.
“What the department did was to acknowledge his request to donate the food parcels to our regional office in Witbank and that is not a permit. For us it’s not about the person but the parcel. We are welcoming any donation from any donor, not just Bushiri,” Ngobe said.
The Sunday World reported the past weekend that Bushiri was prevented by the Hawks from donating food parcels, hand sanitisers and masks to the poor of Witbank on Friday 24 April 2020.
A church source who spoke to the Sunday World said that the travel permits were issued to the prophet by Shongwe in her capacity as MEC of social development.
Ngobe said Shongwe does not have the power to issue permits for persons to travel from one province to another. He said what they do is to only acknowledge the request of donors to assist.
Ngobe said the Mpumalanga department was made aware about plans to donate to its Witbank regional office by officials of Bushiri’s church who are based in Mpumalanga.
“He then said that he wanted to form part of the event together with his wife and that’s when he was advised to seek a travel permit from the relevant authorities and they were denied. Not that the MEC issued a permit. No, that’s a lie”.
Shongwe is said to be a frequenter at Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) in Gauteng.
In October 2018, the EFF wrote to Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane asking her to remove Shongwe from her previous position of MEC of sports and culture over allegations that he splurged thousands of rands of taxpayers’ money for hotel rooms, T-shirts and petrol while attending Bushiri’s church in Gauteng.
Ngobe said the MEC’s choice of church is “personal”. “It’s like me asking you who are you dating, that’s personal,” he said.
Ngobe said the department was disappointed by the situation that led to them not getting the parcels.
He said for them it’s not about the person of Bushiri or any other donor but the food and “Bushiri should have just sent the food”.
He said around 9 000 food parcels have been received from different donors across the province and encouraged more others to come forward [and donate].
“Obviously we are disappointed as a department if there is anything that hampers the distribution of donations to us, because really we are looking for food. The number of calls we receive as a department shows the situation is bad out there,” he said.
Bushiri and his wife Mary are facing charges of fraud and money-laundering at the Tshwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said Bushiri’s lawyer approached them about going to Mpumalanga to help the poor and they denied him.
“His lawyers called to say they would be travelling, we gave advice that because of the Coronavirus and the lockdown regulations, no one is allowed to go to any district or province.
“We then said to them they can take the food parcels to social development or Solidarity Fund for distribution. All of us must observe the law irrespective of who we are,” he said.
(edited by ZK)
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