Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary are in South Africa illegally, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Monday.
In an interview with SAfm's Bongi Gwala, Motsoaledi said the couple entered South Africa for the first time on 6 September 2009 at the Beitbridge border post and were issued with visitors' visas.
"We don't stop people from visiting our country. Visitors' visas have a time frame - you can stay for 90 days or 30 days... because you're a visitor," Motsoaledi said.
However, while Bushiri was in South Africa in 2014, 2015 and 2016, he registered companies with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), it further emerged.
"This is not allowed in terms of the [conditions of] the visitor's visa.
"In 2012, Mary Bushiri entered South Africa through the OR Tambo International Airport, [where] she produced a fraudulent permanent resident's permit, which was issued on 1 February 1997," said Motsoaledi.
"Now, if you came to South Africa for the first time on 6 September 2009, how can you already have a permanent residency dating 1997?
"But then, on 17 May 2016, both Shepherd Bushiri and his wife applied for permanent residency. Remember, his wife has already shown us a permanent residency permit dated February 1997."
Motsoaledi said his department would appeal that ruling.
When asked if officials from his department had been involved in irregularities pertaining to the Bushiris' documents, Motsoaledi said: "Absolutely, absolutely."
On Sunday, News24 reported that two senior Home Affairs officials involved in serving the Bushiris with notices from the department had been suspended.