‘King Shad’ and the miracle-working prophet: a new twist in the Zambia-Egypt gold affair

Brian Whitaker
2 min readAug 24, 2023


Gold dealer Kasanda (right) was jailed after self-styled prophet Shepherd Bushiri (left) accused him of fraud

One of four Zambians arrested last week after police found $5.7m in cash and 127kg of fake gold aboard a private jet at Lusaka airport had been jailed in South Africa in 2017 over a previous gold transaction that went wrong, it has emerged.

In this earlier deal the arrested Zambian, Sedrick (or Shadreck) Kasanda, is said to have sold 500kg of gold to Shepherd Bushiri, a Malawian conman who is also a self-styled prophet and miracle worker.

According to Kasanda, the price was $16m and Bushiri told him to fly to South Africa for payment. Kasanda — known in Zambia as “King Shad” — arrived there with three bodyguards but while waiting to receive the money all four were arrested on suspicion of fraud.

They were released eight months later following representations from the Zambian government. Zambia’s high commissioner to South Africa commented at the time: “If it’s a commercial transaction and it has gone sour, the parties should go before civil courts [rather] than to use the high handedness of criminal procedures.”

“Prophet” Bushiri heads a religious movement called the Enlightened Christian Gathering and has allegedly performed several miracles, the most famous of which was walking in the air. A video of the miracle can be found here. It shows his feet moving a few inches off the ground but doesn’t show the two men off-camera who were lifting him up.

Earlier this month a group of Egyptians flew from Cairo to Lusaka, apparently to buy gold, but were arrested shortly after arriving at the airport. Tests later showed that the “gold” in question was an alloy consisting mainly of copper and zinc.

Kasanda was taken into custody during a police raid on his mansion on August 16 — three days after the events at Lusaka airport. Along with three other Zambians, he is charged with “disposing of minerals which are reasonably suspected of being the proceeds of crime”.

Kasanda maintains he has done nothing wrong and is being made a scapegoat. In a letter to Zambia’s attorney-general, his lawyers say he should be treated as a witness and a whistleblower rather than a suspect.

Last week the Zambian Observer published a document purporting to show that Kasanda is wanted in China for fraud and “skullduggery”. The document is undated and its authenticity has not been confirmed.



Brian Whitaker

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: www.al-bab.com. Author of 'Arabs Without God'.