Will you watch it?
Controversial self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri has asked TV channel Moja Love to include him in the production of a series on his life story or cancel the project.
South African lawyer Victor Nkhwashu was instructed by the televangelist, from his home country of Malawi, to serve the Gauteng-based channel with a letter of demand two weeks ago.
City Press has seen a letter in which Bushiri said he and his close family members had not been informed about the production of Bushiri: Inkalakatha, a 13-part drama series based on his colourful life, which is set to air early next year.
“It is reported that Moja Love is working with people who are close to our client, both in Malawi and in South Africa. Neither our client nor his family members have been formally informed of the contents of the series, nor do they know fully what it entails,” the letter reads.
Bushiri said he did not consent to the use of his life and image for the production.
“We are of the firm view that any series and/or film in our client’s name is of his interest and he should have full knowledge of it prior to its filming and/or production and/or airing.”
In September, City Press reported that Moja Love was working on one of its biggest productions, the concept for which was written three years ago.
Moja Love chief executive Aubrey Tau said at the time:
Our aim is to make sure that this is a historically accurate project. We want it to be accurate, dramatic and entertaining all the way, and to become one of the biggest commercial successes in the history of South African television viewership.
Researchers worked closely with people who are associated with the controversial pastor. They detailed undocumented parts of his life, including how he arrived in the country without money and rose to power.
In his letter of demand, Bushiri, who is currently in Malawi after escaping from South Africa last year, has asked the channel to provide him with the contents of the show and the names of the participants.
“We are therefore instructed to request, as we hereby do, all the information and content of the series, including but not limited to the names of the persons who will be interviewed or have been interviewed for the filming and/or the production, and/or the airing of the series, within seven days of this letter, failing which we hold instructions to approach the court for appropriate relief, including a punitive cost order,” the letter reads.
Nkhwashu had not yet responded to City Press’ requests for comment by the time of going to print.
Moja Love also did not respond to questions sent to it.
Bushiri: Inkalakatha was expected to start airing in January. With a cast of 1 600 actors who include churchgoers, and having been filmed in more than 35 locations, the series was billed as one of Moja Love’s most ambitious productions since Uyajola 9/9.
Our viewers are addicted to the type of shows that we give them and this project won’t be different. On satellite, Uyajola 9/9 is still the most watched programme in the history of pay-TV.
“We think the first anthology of Bushiri: Inkalakatha will beat Uyajola 9/9 numbers or be the second. We are on the way to making history with our television series and changing the way the industry approaches things.”
The show is expected to detail how, at the height of his power, Bushiri filled up FNB Stadium for a New Year celebration.
“He is a complex character who also has the capacity to inflict a great deal of pain and terror on many people, but his preaching is out of this world.
“The series will also show the viewers how Bushiri fraudulently acquired his [South African] citizenship and [how he did] the great escape, assisted by his mistress, who masterminded the plans,” Tau said.
Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are wanted in South Africa in connection with a case of fraud and money laundering, allegedly to the tune of R102 million.