Controversial self-styled prophet Shepherd Bushiri (35) is fending off rumours of an affair with a young congregant.
Sources told City Press that Bushiri’s alleged mistress is 25-year-old Phumzile Paledi, a woman from Limpopo who is a presenter on his Prophetic Channel TV.
They claim that Bushiri has cosied up to the former club hostess and that their relationship is far from platonic.
Paledi strongly denies that there is anything untoward going on between her and the Malawian pastor.
“Bushiri is my spiritual father; there is nothing more than that,” she said.
Bushiri’s lawyer, Terrance Baloyi, slammed the rumours, saying the “prophet” had previously been accused of rape and money laundering, and suspicions about his relationship with Paledi were simply part of a smear campaign.
Phumzile Paledi’s relationship with Shepherd Bushiri has been called into question
He added that Bushiri was always with Mary, his wife of seven years.
“Last year was a tough year for him. It wasn’t easy for him. People may hate you for your success,” said Baloyi.
Asked about pictures taken by the pair, Baloyi said: “If you are working closely with the prophet, you will be fortunate to take pictures with him.”
However, many are questioning who is financing Paledi’s lifestyle.
“I work as a TV presenter and I get paid like everyone else, so it is unfair for people to question my lifestyle,” she fumed.
A well-placed source told City Press that Paledi travels with the pastor from his Enlightened Christian Gathering church and the congregation believes that they are more than just friends.
“I travelled with him a lot last year because it was a year of winning souls and because I am a presenter at church,” she said in response.
Paledi, who met Bushiri at the church when she was 19 years old, said people were jealous of her luxurious lifestyle and she was tired of the rumours.
“People must just leave me alone. Every year I am accused of dating a pastor, maybe it’s about time I set the record straight so they will leave me alone,” she said.
Bushiri has been in the news for the past week after three women died in a stampede during a service at the Pretoria Showgrounds last Friday, when worshippers dashed for cover during a storm.
It was reported last week that church officials did not call police to the scene, but simply took the bodies to the mortuary.
The deceased’s family members demanded answers from the church about the deaths, but received little explanation.
The SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco) protested outside Bushiri’s church last week, but called a truce after meeting with Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Rights.
“All the fights between Sanco and the church must stop with immediate effect. We assisted all three families emotionally and financially. Our pastors will be providing the deceased’s families with support,” Baloyi said, adding that the church understood and respected that money could not bring back their loved ones.
Bushiri travelled to Malawi last week.
“When the prophet comes back, we need to come up with a programme to help the deceased’s families as much as we can,” Baloyi added.
The police, he said, were investigating and they could not interfere with the investigation.
“We are also doing our own internal investigation. This matter requires a high level of investigation. The police are doing their part to find answers.
“All we know is that there was a stampede. We don’t know who removed the bodies of the deceased. It happened so quickly; no one saw this happening,” he said.
- This article was updated on Friday, January 18 2018
In our story last week titled, “He’s just my spiritual father, says Bushiri’s alleged mistress”, we published a photo of what appeared to be Phumzile Paledi together with Sheperd Bushiri. This photograph was supplied to City Press by Phumzile Paledi, who denied being involved in an affair with the Bushiri. We subsequently learnt that the photograph had been manipulated. City Press retracts the photograph and apologises for any embarrassment or confusion caused.