By Garikai Mazara
Hundreds of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries followers recently besieged their leader Prophet Walter Magaya’s offices in Cape Town, South Africa, demanding refunds following a botched stands deal.
The followers said they wanted their money back since nothing had materialised three years after paying deposits.
Through Planet Africa, the investment arm of Prophet Magaya’s church, the followers were asked to pay varying deposits into a housing scheme.
In a grey agreement of sale, the investors (who are named as partners in the agreement) were informed that the stands’ sizes and prices were to vary and would be determined after the sub-division of the land.
The deposits ranged between US$1 000 and US$4 000, with the “partners” obliged to pay monthly subscriptions towards the scheme.
With a three-year tenure, the scheme was meant to provide the first batch of stands early this year but nothing has been delivered.
Prophet Magaya has offered to refund local “partners” using an exchange rate of 1:1, despite having taken deposits in US dollars since 2016. The preacher has offered the same amount in Zimbabwe dollars.
Speaking through his spokesman Admire Mango, Prophet Magaya said they were aware of the situation and would deliver as per promise once coronavirus pandemic eases.
“The lockdowns, not only in Zimbabwe but across the world, have affected all spheres of life. Once business returns to normal, we will continue with the housing project,” said Mango.
The housing project, with stands to be availed in Harare and Bulawayo, saw Zimbabweans investing in the scheme. Besides Cape Town, other Zimbabweans who invested in the project are in Australia, where a sizeable number are resident.
The housing scandal comes exactly a year after Prophet Magaya was accused of sexual misconduct. The PHD leader has failed to clear his name of the allegations levelled against him by his female congregants.
On July 7 last year, Sarah Maruta and Charity Dlodlo, in different no-holds barred confessions, alleged sexual impropriety on the part of the prophet. Their confessions were to open a can of worms as several other women made similar confessions.
This prompted the Gender Commission of Zimbabwe, a constitutional body, to issue a Government Gazette on August 23, 2019, inviting Prophet Magaya’s victims to come forward as part of its investigations to unravel how widespread the allegations were.
“The Government Gazette was also in line with our mandate to safeguard gender equality as enshrined in the Constitution,” explained Mr Tinashe Mazani, the legal officer for the Gender Commission in an interview on Friday.
However, a month after the gazette, Prophet Magaya was to approach the High Court (HC7347/19) seeking an interdict as he felt the Gender Commission did not have the jurisdiction and competence to carry out the investigations.
He contended that if there were any allegations of rape, it was the role of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to investigate, not the Commission. And if the allegations were of an adultery nature, it was not in the place of the Commission, either, to investigate.
Since the Commission had invited victims to approach it, “who were coming in, in their numbers”, Prophet Magaya then filed an urgent chamber application (HC7473/19) on September 6, which was heard on September 16 and judgement delivered on October 22.
The High Court decision was in favour of the Gender Commission continuing with its investigations. Prophet Magaya was to file a Supreme Court appeal (SC592/19) on October 30, which was heard on March 10 this year. The court reserved judgment on the hearing.
“So as the Gender Commission, we are waiting on the Supreme Court judgement as well as the initial High Court application, both which we believe will be landmark rulings as they will define the mandate, operations and scope of independent commissions, not just the Gender Commission,” said Mr Mazani.
Mr Mazani confirmed to this paper that they had compiled a number of cases by victims but could not be drawn into revealing the number as well as identities “as this will jeopardise our investigations, should they resume if the courts allow us to”.
“We also want to add that investigations into sexual misconduct, if any, are not only directed at Prophet Magaya as we also have on our files complaints against other men-of-cloth. This is not a one-man crusade but from the information that we have, it is a trend within most churches.
“Our argument is basically simple, that sexual allegations bring disharmony in households, that such allegations are different from, say fraud allegations. No man would be comfortable with his wife attending a church where such allegations are rife, which then becomes a nexus for gender inequality,” explained Mr Mazani. Sunday Mail