The High Court in Malawi on Monday overturned an earlier ruling that witnesses in the self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri extradition matter could testify before a court in South Africa.
Prophet Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are wanted in South Africa.
The couple – who face charges of fraud and money laundering involving more than R100 million in South Africa – skipped bail and fled to Malawi towards the end of 2020.
There are no official records of when or how they left South Africa.
Bushiri, who is the spiritual leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG), alleged at the time that there was no possibility of a fair trial in South Africa.
Last year in August, a court in Malawi ruled that witnesses in the extradition matter may testify in South Africa.
However, Bushiri and his wife appealed the decision.
On Monday, the High Court overturned the earlier ruling and insisted that South African witnesses in the extradition matter must travel to Malawi to give evidence in person.
Eprham Nyondo, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri spokesperson, described the ruling as a “milestone victory for us in our case”.
Nyondo added: “The High Court in Malawi has ruled that witnesses, to be specific, those that arrested us and recorded cases against us be physically present in Malawi for cross examination by our lawyers.
“When we came to Malawi, we spoke about how unfairly we were being treated in South Africa.
“We had opened cases of extortion against some of the prosecutors who arrested us a year before the same accused officers arrested us.”
Nyondo said Prophet Bushiri had survived assassination attempts after “we opened cases against some individuals in the Republic of South Africa, and they have records of these cases in the police and judicial systems which we believe to be vital in our case”.
Nyondo added: “We welcome this fair ruling, and we look forward to meeting them in court where we will exercise our right to cross examine them for a fair trial”.
It was not immediately clear when the extradition matter would be heard.