#FakeProphet­sMustFall march to go ahead

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VEN­TER

TO­DAY’S march against false prophets may go ahead, but the or­gan­is­ers can­not in any way de­fame con­tro­ver­sial Pre­to­ria prophet Shep­herd Bushiri.

The Malaw­ian scored a le­gal vic­tory yes­ter­day when the high court in Pre­to­ria ruled that the or­gan­is­ers of the march may not re­fer to him in defam­a­tory terms on their posters dur­ing the event, due to be held in Joburg.

Judge El­iz­a­beth Kubushi in­ter­dicted or­gan­is­ers of the #FakeProphet­sMustFall march and Martins An­to­nio in par­tic­u­lar from mak­ing state­ments on Face­book re­gard­ing Bushiri.

An­to­nio, Solomon Ashoms and Charles Farai may also not al­lege on their Face­book pro- files that Bushiri had en­gaged in ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs or make state­ments link­ing him to crim­i­nal con­duct such as rape or the ex­ploita­tion of women, es­pe­cially his fe­male con­gre­gants.

The judge fur­ther in­ter­dicted the three from re­fer­ring to him as “a devil or sa­tanic”. She re­frained from rul­ing that they had to apol­o­gise, as asked by him in his ap­pli­ca­tion.

They must within 12 hours re­move all the of­fen­sive state­ments re­gard­ing Bushiri from so­cial me­dia.

The head and founder of the En­light­ened Chris­tian Gath­er­ing Church and Shep­herd Bushiri Min­istries In­ter­na­tional turned to court to ob­tain an ur­gent in­ter­dict against the spread­ing of defam­a­tory state­ments against him.

He was not in court yes­ter­day, but was well rep­re­sented by two se­nior ad­vo­cates Barry Roux SC, Mabasa Sibanda SC and a string of lawyers.

An­to­nio was the only re­spon­dent who op­posed the in­ter­dict. Nei­ther Ashoms nor Farai were in court, but Roux told Judge Kubushi they were not op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion.

The two had al­ready re­moved the of­fend­ing state- ments from their so­cial me­dia pro­files, he said. Roux, how­ever, said it was up to the court to in any event also rule against them, al­though they were not op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion.

“We fully un­der­stand free­dom of speech, but our con­sti­tu­tion does not en­cour­age un­law­ful con­duct,” Roux ar­gued. He said the state­ments pub­lished re­gard­ing Bushiri were clearly defam­a­tory.

Roux said to­day’s march against false prophets was a good idea, and Bushiri backed it. “It is some­thing we need.”

But Roux said it could not be tol­er­ated that Bushiri’s good name was tainted in the process. The prophet feared that dur­ing the rally, posters would be dis­played that de­famed him by link­ing him to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties and by re­fer­ring to him, among oth­ers, as the devil. “This must stop,” Roux said.

He told the court a let­ter of de­mand was send to the three re­spon­dents. While the other two did ad­here to the de­mands, An­to­nio re­fused, he said.

“An­to­nio has a bone to pick but he does not know where to stop,” Roux said.

It was clear that no love was lost be­tween the two as Bushiri had ear­lier “propheted” An­to­nio’s wife and made cer­tain pro­nounce­ments re­gard­ing him, which led to the break-up of their mar­riage.

Roux said An­to­nio was the au­thor of the of­fend­ing pam­phlet, but An­to­nio’s ad­vo­cate ve­he­mently de­nied this. He blamed oth­ers, in­clud­ing the other two re­spon­dents, for the cre­ation of the posters and the of­fend­ing words.

Ad­vo­cate Khelu Nond­wango said An­to­nio could not be held re­spon­si­ble for the ma­te­rial cre­ated on the poster as he was not the au­thor of the doc­u­ment. He said all An­to­nio did was to pub­lish the poster on so­cial me­dia to try to at­tract public­ity for the march.

An­to­nio, in an in­ter­view with In­de­pen­dent Me­dia, said he was not the or­gan­iser of to­day’s march. He was sim­ply in­vited “as one of the vic­tims who suf­fered un­der the ac­cu­sa­tions of the prophet”.

He blamed Bushiri for his di­vorce and said he tried to meet with him to talk things over, but the prophet wanted to charge him R7 000 for the meet­ing. “If he is re­ally a prophet, why will he only meet with me if I pay him? I will at­tend the march. It’s not about me, it’s about all the vic­tims.”

Bushiri’s good name was tainted in the process

IN­TER­DICT: Prophet Shep­herd Bushiri.

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