NATIONAL NEWS - A dead bouquet of flowers and an empty podium are all that’s left in the big and empty marquee tent behind Shepherd Bushiri’s hotel.
Within a month, the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader was arrested, let out on a R200 000 bail and fled the country to Malawi.
A total of five warrants of arrest have been issued for Bushiri and his wife Mary since they fled the country. Two of the warrants are related to fraud and theft charges, and the other three to three separate rape cases against the self-proclaimed prophet.
Despite the tight security at the gate of the Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa gate, operations at the business are on an obvious go-slow. At the gate, the security requests visitors to state the reasons for their visit before screening and allowing them to enter.
It is pay day and there is a total of four cars parked in the visitors’ parking lot.
The water feature leading to the entrance of the reception has run dry and left marks suggesting it has been off for a while.
The inside of the hotel screams Bushiri, with designer decor and luxurious finishes to the marble tops in the bathrooms.
On Wednesday, only one of the two restaurants in the hotel was open for business. “It gets busier here over weekends. Two weeks ago, we had a beautiful wedding here with 120 guests,” one of the waiters says.
There is no one else in the restaurant but us in the main dining room, which leads to a private dining room, Major 1, with an en suite bathroom.
Outside, the empty entertainment centre packed with electronic games and a pool table is switched off.
The Citizen learns from a source who requested anonymity that employees sometimes knock off early because there is nothing left to do for the day.
“It’s quiet during the week. Business is better on weekends. But since that thing with the prophet, the business has declined.”
The source, who says most of the hotel clients were church members, describes Bushiri as a humble man. “You would not even recognise him if you saw him here. People shouldn’t judge, we don’t know the whole story.”