A well-known Christian preacher has skipped bail in South Africa and fled the country. Controversial millionaire preacher Mr Bushiri has been referred to as one of the richest religious leaders in Africa. He says he has cured people of HIV, made the blind see, changed the fortunes of the impoverished and, on at least one occasion, appeared to walk on air.

Mr Bushiri is accused of money laundering and fraud along with his wife and two others. Crime investigators say the case involves 102 million South Africa rand ($6.6m; £5m). Shepherd Bushiri, who had previously said he wanted to clear his name, has now returned to his home country, Malawi, with his wife Mary.

Shepherd Bushiri and wife, Mary.

Earlier this month they were released on bail after being charged with fraud and money laundering. He said there had been attempts on his life and he accused the South African authorities of not offering protection. Mr Bushiri described his decision to skip bail as “a tactical withdrawal meant to preserve lives” while speaking to supporters on social media on Saturday.

There had been allegations that Mr Bushiri fled on Malawi’s presidential jet with President Lazarus Chakwera – something that has been denied by both Mr Chakwera’s office and the South African authorities. The South African government announced on Sunday that they have started the process to bring the couple back from Malawi “to ensure that the two fugitives face justice”.

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