By Abel Zhakata
A PASTOR with the City Gospel Tabernacle in Mutare has been fingered by restive Capital Base Savings and Credit Co-operative clients as being in possession of millions of dollars that were fraudulently deposited into his personal accounts by the co-operative directors as a way of evading detection.
Capital Base director Ms Solomy Kambunda allegedly bought several houses in Mutare and beyond using Pastor David Mlangeni’s name as well as depositing millions of dollars into his personal accounts at the height of the co-operative meltdown.
When the co-operative was on the brink of collapsing at the end of 2012, clients raised the issue and accused Pastor Mlangeni of being in possession of their money, but the cleric denied the allegations.
The Manica Post grilled the pastor then over the allegations, but he insisted that his hands were clean. He said the only money that came from the co-operative was by way of tithes paid by Ms Kambunda since she attended his church.
He also said he was not in love with Ms Kambunda as alleged by the clients. Ms Kambunda also said the allegations were being cooked by people who wanted to see her downfall and soil her name.
This week, the co-operative’s clients who are still to get their savings made more noise and pleaded with responsible authorities to help them reclaim millions they say were given to Pastor Mlangeni.
They want detectives to arrest the man of the cloth and interrogate him over the missing millions. Their allegations have been bolstered by the fact that the pastor who used to have offices in uptown Mutare has allegedly relocated to South Africa.
“He has disappeared with our money and is now based in South Africa.
“We told them in 2012 that Mlangeni should be arrested, but our concerns fell on deaf ears. We did our own investigations then and we found out that he had more than $3 million in his personal account. Today he is nowhere to be seen.
“Apart from the millions he has, we are also told that the co-operative bought several properties in South Africa. President Mugabe is on record as saying anyone who took people’s money must be arrested and we want the same to happen here,” said a client who requested anonymity.
Efforts to get a comment from Pastor Mlangeni were fruitless at the time of going to press as his cellphone number was no longer in use. The church’s offices at Zimre Centre in Mutare have since been closed and a security officer manning the premises said the church was no longer there.
Ms Kambunda could not be reached either.
The clients are insisting that a forensic audit of the activities of the co-operative must be carried out so as to trace how the $26 million disappeared.
“It is a fact that some of us will not be able to recover our dues, but it gives a bad precedence if these fraudsters are left to walk scot free. $26 million is a lot money, considering that there are some people who sold their houses and used their pensions to invest with the co-operative, only to be told that you money is no more.
“That pastor played a central role in this fraud and he has our money. If auditors are hired to go through the books thoroughly we will know exactly where all that money went.
“Everyone who benefited from this crime will be exposed.
“Even if we don’t get our money we will be satisfied if these people are meant to answer for their crimes,” said another client who only identified himself and Mr Chirodzo.
In January last year the co-operative said it had no money because it used the funds to pay interest yet it was not generating anything.
Mrs Kambunda and her management accepted the blame for continuing accepting investment deposits from clients yet they did not have meaningful investment vehicles to make more money.
In the end, she said, the society was paying interests on idle money.
“That’s how it all went wrong. We did not abuse people’s money but we failed to handle and invest the funds properly and we ended up in this mess.
“If you buy money at a cost you must use that money to generate more income so that you will be able to pay back the principal amount plus the interest and you will be left with something for your coffers. That did not happen,” she said.
Last week, the clients confronted a judicial manager appointed to run the co-operative, whom they accused of wining and dining with the directors instead of taking on board concerns of creditors. Manica Post