Electrical engineering pensioners in South Africa are possibly going to lose around R100 million invested in Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s investment vehicles as a result of a criminal case against the flamboyant self-proclaimed preacher.
At least four pension funds invested in Bushiri’s operations and are waiting to be cashed out.
Bushiri and his wife marry were arrested last year on fraud and money laundering charges, sparking a massive protest from his followers demanding his release.
The preacher, who is of Malawi origin, founded and leads Pretoria based ECG church and proclaimed himself a prophet.
The controversial preacher owns a fleet off luxury cars and made headlines after buying a Maserati for her six year old child in 2017. The Electrical Contracting Industry Pension Fund has been put in quandary after the seizure of the preacher’s assets.
The trustees wrote a letter to members of the fund indicating that the fund invested R110 million in Bushiri’s upmarket Waters Hotel development in 2017 through the fund manager JM Busha Investment Group.
Bushiri was arrested at this Rustenburg hotel in North West last year.
The money was placed for a tenure of 12 months and later extended by another year. The pension fund was due to receive a total of R140 million on maturity of the investment but JM Busha only managed to repay a paltry R37 million. The rest of the balance were locked when Bushiri’s assets were frozen.
The trustees of the fund accuse Busha of exceeding the mandate by investing in Bushiri’s assets and they have lodged a complaint with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA). Bushiri’s problems have been compounded as the fund has begun legal proceedings to recover their investment.
JM Busha CEO Joseph Busha, who is the president of the Zimbabwean political party Free Zimbabwe Congress, denies exceeding his mandate by placing the funds with Bushiri’s company but insist there were daily reports about the fund and he conducted his job with transparency. Busha says he received a security guarantee to the tune of R400 million from Bushiri.
Busha said he has already initiated a legal action to attach Bushiri’s assets to recover the pension fund’s money. He goes on to accuse the authorities of jeopardizing the transaction by attaching Bushiri’s assets.
FSCA has revealed that at least four funds are waiting to cash out of Bushiri’s company.
The Engineering Industries Pension Fund is owed R27 million, the Metals Industry Pension Fund is owed R21 million and two SA Municipal Worker’s Unions (Samwu) funds are owed R42 million and R7 million, the FSCA reported.
Busha lost a further R60 million of Samwu funds invested in the SME Bank Namibia, run by Zimbabweans and currently being liquidated.