Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba says the mission will ensure that four Zambians who were arrested for allegedly trying to defraud Prophet Shepard Bushiri get a fair hearing.

On April 21, 2017, police arrested Sedrick Kasanda Kapasa, Ephraim Musukwa, Andrew Nawa and Daniel Phiri at Michelangelo Towers Hotel in Sandton during their meeting with ADF Company officials representing Bushiri.

Bushiri, through a company named ADF Company entered into a transaction with a Zambian national -Sedrick Kasanda ‘Alex’ Kapasa, to allegedly supply gold to Bushiri’s ADF company.

Kapasa was having business meetings with Bushiri’s representatives to discuss their on-going commercial and mineral transactions when the police pounced on them.

Although Musukwa, Nawa and Phiri identified themselves as body guards for Kapasa, police picked them up too.

Shortly after their arrest, South African media reported that four men who posed as precious metals dealers to allegedly defraud a businessman (Bushiri) of nearly R10m and were arrested by the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court, the Hawks.

In a statement issued by Zambia’s High Commission to South Africa first secretary for press and public relations Naomi Nyawali today, High Commissioner Mwamba said the mission would ensure that the Zambians were given a fair hearing.

“The Zambian nationals: Alex Kapasa, 29, Andrew Nawa, 33, Ephraim Musukwu, 28, and Daniel Phiri, 37, will appear in court on Wednesday May 17th 2017 for their bail application. We have spoken to and are cooperating with the Hawks to ensure that the accused persons are given a fair hearing and trial,” High Commissioner Mwamba said.

“We will not discuss the merits of the case or the validity of the claims from both sides, this is the duty of the Court. Our role is to ensure that Zambians are treated fairly and the criminal law is not used to punish mere business rivalry. If it’s a commercial transaction and it has gone sour, the parties should go before civil courts than to use the high handedness of criminal procedures or criminal courts just because the accused persons are foreigners.”

He also directed his officials to attend the court session tomorrow.

“After having an audience and discussing with the four accused persons, it has emerged that as an Embassy, we need to take interest in the matter as information has come to the fore that demonstrates that the four Zambians might be treated unfairly,” High Commissioner Mwamba said.

He said the mission was concerned about how Bushiri set-up the Zambian nationals and as such the mission would take keen interest in the matter.

“We are concerned with the manner the Zambians were clearly set-up by the complainant-Sheperd Bushiri, his company ADF, and what appears to be a pre-organized arrest and their consequent incarceration. We also note the prompt and pre-emptive negative reports given to the media that has turned out to be highly prejudicial to the court case of Zambians which also appear to have predetermined their case,” said High Commissioner Mwamba.

“We are also concerned that persons identified and hired by Sedrick Kasanda Kapasa as personal protection or body guards have also been arrested, implicated and are accused of the same alleged crime as that of Kapasa despite informing authorities that they were mere body guards to Kapasa.”

Meanwhile, Bushiri vowed to return to Zambia tomorrow.