Controversial pastor-turned-fugitive Shepherd Bushiri. Picture: Picture: Wikus De Wet/AFP.
Controversial pastor-turned-fugitive Shepherd Bushiri. Picture: Picture: Wikus De Wet/AFP.

Court woes for Home Affairs official accused of helping Bushiri irregularly obtain permanent residency

By Bongani Nkosi Time of article published Jul 28, 2021

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Johannesburg - Court woes have continued to pile up for the Home Affairs senior official accused of aiding controversial pastor-turned-fugitive Shepherd Bushiri to irregularly obtain permanent residency.

The Labour Court in Johannesburg has dismissed Ronney Marhule’s application for leave to appeal its earlier judgment that went against him.

Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje dismissed Marhule’s application in May that sought to bar his employer from using legal representation in the internal disciplinary proceedings against him.

Marhule, the suspended chief director of permits, maintained the department had no legal standing to use a lawyer in the disciplinary hearing.

His reasons included that the senior management service handbook did not allow for the use of lawyers in internal disciplinary hearings.

Home Affairs favoured fielding lawyers in the case, given the complexity and seriousness of issues to be traversed.

Judge Tlhotlhalemaje ruled in May that the court had no grounds to intervene in internal disciplinary proceedings and dictate how they should proceed.

Marhule approached Judge Tlhotlhalemaje again, on an urgent basis, to seek leave to appeal the May judgment. He intended to take the appeal to the Labour Appeal Court (LAC), which he believed would find differently.

After considering his argument, Judge Tlhotlhalemaje found Marhule had no prospects of convincing the LAC otherwise.

“There are no legitimate disputes on the law raised, nor are there any novel issues that deserve the attention of the LAC. Accordingly, the leave to appeal enjoys no reasonable prospects of the LAC coming to any different conclusion to that arrived in my judgment,” he said.

He further slapped Marhule with legal costs, saying the urgent application for leave to appeal had no merit.

“This matter ought not have come this far,” said Judge Tlhotlhalemaje.

Home Affairs charged Marhule and three other officials for allegedly approving the permanent residency applications of Bushiri without following due process.

An internal Home Affairs investigation found that since March 2016, when Bushiri’s application for permanent residence was received, its approval had been done without proper compliance with the department’s standard operating procedures, and was in contravention of the Immigration Act.

The Bushiris’ applications were captured and granted by its officials, using the incorrect section of the act, as a result of Bushiri and his wife Mary’s commissions or omissions, according to the department’s evidence. Bushiri, a Malawi national, faced criminal charges that included flouting South Africa’s immigration laws.

The Star

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