#FakeProphetsMustFall march to go ahead
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.