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No, video doesn’t show court documents in South Africa’s Bushiri case being stolen

“Bushiri docket missing or stolen?”

That’s the caption of a video posted on Facebook in South Africa on 2 November 2020. It’s a TV news report on the bail application by self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary Bushiri, who have been charged with fraud, theft and money laundering.

The video shows a woman taking documents from the judge’s bench, moments after the judge leaves the courtroom, and handing them to another woman.

It has been viewed more 45,000 times so far. An article on the Opera News blog also reports that the video shows the docket being stolen.

“The woman alongside another lady were seen stealing the docket and looking inside it as people who are looking for some information inside which they didn’t find and resorted into taking another docket,” the article claims

Bushiri is the founder of the Enlightened Christians Gathering church. He previously caused controversy by claiming he could perform miracles such as walking on air and curing people of HIV. He and four others, including his wife, were arrested in October on the fraud, theft and money laundering charges. 

But does the video show his case docket being stolen? We checked. 

Court clerk took documents as ‘standard practice’

A Google search reveals that the video is authentic and was taken during a live broadcast by South African media outlet eNCA

But the women in the video are not stealing the documents. The Department of Justice published an official statement on 3 November confirming that no documents were illegally removed from the courtroom. 

“It can be confirmed that the bench notes of the magistrate are in possession of the relevant court officials,” the statement says. 

The statement explains that it is “standard practice” for the court clerk to retrieve the charge sheet for processing and storage, and that the second person was a journalist who had asked to see the charge sheet. 

The statement adds that dockets are kept with the National Prosecuting Authority and are not transferred to magistrates or judges hearing a case. 

“Therefore, the docket was not part of the documents that were exchanged between the court officials seen in the videos/images,” the statement concludes

When Bushiri appeared in court two days after the video was posted, he and his co-accused were granted bail.  

Two women did not steal the police docket for Bushiri’s case, as the description of a video posted on  Facebook claimed. The video, by eNCA, shows a court clerk taking the documents to be stored, as is standard procedure, and showing them to a journalist. – Naledi Mashishi


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