South Africa, Pretoria – Magistrate Thandi Theledi will on Tuesday next week deliver judgment in the bail application of one of Willah Mudolo for defrauding members of the Enlightened Christian Gathering alongside church leader Shepherd Bushiri.
The State and the legal representative for Willah Mudolo – advocate JP Marais – concluded the cross-examinations and arguments for his bail application in court on Tuesday this week.
In seeking his client’s release on bail, Marais argued that Mudolo was more than willing to put his family’s Sandhurst home worth R25 million as surety not to evade trial proceedings. Moreso, he would not abandon his wife and two children in the country, as the youngest was only 9 months old.
Marais said Mudolo would be pleading not guilty and would show the court he had in fact paid back all the money his company, Rising Estates, had received from investors of the church in 2017.
Marais said the State was also unable to say when they would be able to proceed with the trial as the courts were severely overburdened and keeping Mudolo in custody would result in irreparable harm to the many entities he was involved in. He added that Mudolo had no previous convictions or pending matters and the court could not ignore that the presumption of innocence was of cardinal importance when it had to make its decision.
Marais said Mudolo’s visa had expired during the lockdown period and he intended to apply at the soonest possible time. He asked the court not to keep Mudolo from getting bail just because his co-accused Bushiri and his wife Mary had escaped the country with the help of some corrupt officials.
The State, in asking that bail be denied, said that it was a schedule 5 application, the onus was on the applicant to prove why it was in the interest of justice that he be granted bail, something which it said he had not done. He had also attempted to flee the country on three occasions with a one-way ticket, the State said.
Mudolo, his wife Zethu, the Bushiris and Landiwe Ntlokwana Sindani face charges of fraud, theft and money laundering to the tune of R106 million. The other accused were granted bail during previous appearances in court. Bushiri and his wife have been in Malawi since they escaped last month. Malawian authorities have authorised their extradition to South Africa.