South Africa – Fugitive preacher Shepherd Bushiri says South Africa bears responsibility for the death of his eight-year-old daughter Israella after she was initially barred from seeking medical treatment in Kenya last month due to her father’s legal troubles.

Bushiri, who skipped bail and fled South Africa with his co-accused wife Mary in November last year following their indictment on a slew of charges, including money-laundering, theft, and fraud involving a R100-million ponzi scheme, announced his family loss on Monday.

Israella was said to have succumbed to a lung ailment in a Kenyan hospital after she was subsequently cleared by Malawian immigration authorities who initially feared the Bushiri’s were trying to make another escape – this time from their extradition hearing.

The self-proclaimed prophet blamed it all on his former host country saying her daughter had become a “victim” of “persecution” by South Africa.

“When I spoke to the doctor, he highlighted that if she had not been blocked at the airport the first time she needed to travel to Kenya for medical assistance, she wouldn’t have passed on,” the Malawian preacher said in a statement.

“It is very disheartening and sad, therefore, that my daughter has become a victim of the persecutions that we are facing from South Africa.”

As a father, Bushiri said, he had desired to see his daughter grow and follow in his footsteps of ministry.

He paid tribute to her saying Israella had brought comfort to the family as she was born “during a time when my wife and I were going through great persecution, and she has lived her life witnessing what it means to fight and labor for the Lord despite trials and battles.”

“She came at a time when we really needed her and through it all, she offered my wife and I, including the entire church great comfort and enlightenment.”

The distraught father eulogized and “celebrated” the life of his daughter, describing her as “a walking angel,” “a strong young girl who loved to worship and serve God despite her young age,” adding she “possessed a divine excellency in the way she spoke and even tackled her studies.”

He added: “In our darkest moments she gave us light and in our lowest moments, she lifted our spirits. I am grateful to God to have fathered an angel of such spirit and beauty. She will always be my little girl.”

While faulting South Africa, to where he and his wife face extradition, Bushiri said his family accepted God’s will as “it could have happened anyway” even if Israella had initially been allowed to seek treatment.