Home Affairs official dismissed for approving Bushiri’s permanent residence

A Home Affairs department official, who was accused of approving the SA permanent residence of self-acclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s has been dismissed with immediate effect.

Ronney Marhule, the department’s former chief director for permits, was found guilty of non-compliance, gross dishonesty, and gross negligence of the Immigration Act.

His disciplinary hearing took an average of one year to conclude.

The department of Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, said his department was serious about clamping down on corruption.

Sunday World reported in April the final submissions filed in the disciplinary case showed that Bushiri and his family did not qualify for permanent residency after they used bank accounts of their church and an aircraft purchased for $1,25-million as proof of an investment they were going make.

The department contended that Bushiri did not have a net worth of R12-million and instead used the bank account of the church for his application in 2016.

The Bushiri’s permanent residency was therefore unlawfully authorised along with applications for refugee status.

In terms of the Immigration Act, an applicant must invest or intend to invest R2,5-million in the country to be granted permanent residency, among other qualifying criteria.

The act also states that the minimum net worth of an applicant should be R12-million, of which R120 000 should be paid to the director-general of home affairs upon approval of the application.

In January, the Labour Court dismissed Marhule’s application opposing the fact that the department used a lawyer to preside over his disciplinary hearing.

The department alleges Marhule approved Bushiri’s application while the application file and all relevant documents were still at the Lilongwe mission in Malawi and were only couriered to the department’s head office in Pretoria during December 2019.

“There was documentary evidence available in the files of the department establishing that Bushiri was in South Africa on a visitor’s visa but had, contrary to the Immigration Act, been conducting a business, which ought to have resulted in the rejection of the application, or alternatively, its referral for further investigation.

“There was documentary evidence available in the files of the department, establishing that Bushiri’s spouse, Mary Bushiri, had submitted a fraudulent exemption certificate issue in terms of the repealed Aliens Control Act prior to the application and recommendation for the approval of Bushiri’s permanent residence permit, which ought to have resulted in rejection of the application, alternatively, its referral for further investigation,” the department said at the time.

In October 2020, the Bushiris  were arrested and charged with fraud and money laundering by the Hawks.

The status of Bushiri’s citizenship was brought into question during the arrest.

The department, through its counter corruption unit, initiated an investigation into allegations of irregular approval of permanent residence permit of Bushiri and his family.

That November, Bushiri and his wife fled to Malawi.

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