By Brian Chitemba
United Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s misrepresentations to business couple, Mr Upenyu Mashangwa and wife, Blessing, bordered on fraudulent activities which could have resulted in serious losses for the latter.
High Court judge Justice David Mangota ruled that Prophet Makandiwa, who applied for exception in September 2017, acted wrongfully and caused fraud, giving a strong case in the US$6,5 million lawsuit filed by the Mashangwas.
Prophet Makandiwa was dragged to court by the Mashangwas for making a “false prophecy” that their US$500 000 bank loan would be cancelled but the couple ended up losing their Marlborough house.
The UFIC leader is also being sued for claiming that Mr Tichaona Mawere was a good lawyer who would never lose a case, yet he was a deregistered lawyer.
The Mashangwas are also claiming damages because they were called on to the UFIC stage during a church service where Prophet Makandiwa would announce to the congregants that the couple was a successful example of the church.
“Such statements encouraged the plaintiffs (Mr and Mrs Mashangwa) to put more and more contributions in the form of money into the third defendant’s (UFIC) pocket.”
Prophet Makandiwa is being sued for parading the Mashangwa couple as chosen people whom God showered with blessings to a point where they were regarded as successful businesspeople.
Justice Mangota said: “It is evident, from the foregoing, that the plaintiffs and the defendants enjoyed very good social, and possibly spiritual, ties. That fact alone explains why the plaintiffs took the word of the defendants more seriously than any other member of the third defendant did.
“The plaintiffs’ case in regard to the four claims is watertight. There is nothing which is vague and/or embarrassing in each of those claims. Their cause of action is clear, cogent and to the point. The claim fall neatly into the delict of fraud. They are neither frivolous nor vexatious.”
Justice Mangota also ordered the Mashangwas to amend two defamation claims within 10 days.
Prophet Makandiwa had applied for exception but Justice Mangota noted that the conviction of Robert Martin Gumbura, who was also a church leader, was proof that every person is fallible and no one was immune to making mistakes.
“That is so notwithstanding the person’s standing — social, spiritual or otherwise — in society. The second is that, where one commits a crime or a wrong (ie delict) the person cannot escape the long arm of the law.
“He will either be prosecuted or sued, depending on what is alleged to have been done. That depends on the definition society places on his conduct. That will, once again, occur irrespective of his status — social, spiritual or otherwise — in society.
“Applying the above-observed matters to the current case, therefore, the defendants (Prophet Makandiwa, his wife Ruth and UFIC) cannot be allowed to hide behind the proposition that their situation relates to ecclesiastical matters which the court has no jurisdiction to determine.”
Justice Mangota said Prophet Makandiwa was properly sued because of the statements which he made and the fact that he was also close to the Mashangwas.
He then dismissed Prophet Makandiwa’s exception application with costs. The matter will proceed in terms of the High Court Rules, 1971. The Sunday Mail