Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
UNITED Family International Church (UFIC) leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, who was recently slapped with a $6,5 million suit by former congregants, has finally broken his silence, exposing the rot surrounding the much-publicised lawsuit.
Prophet Makandiwa, his wife Ruth and the church were listed as defendants in the $6,5 million claim by a Harare couple claiming they lost a fortune after being misled by false prophecies.
Businessman Mr Upenyu Mashangwa and his wife Blessing — both ex-UFIC members — allege Prophet Makandiwa in 2012 misrepresented that they would encounter a “debt cancellation miracle” and encouraged them to continue “seeding”. However, the couple’s house in Marlborough, Harare was later attached and sold for $500 000 instead of $700 000. They are now demanding the $700 000 from Prophet Makandiwa.
The Mashangwas want Prophet Makandiwa to pay them $1,7 million for recommending a de-registered lawyer who was to dupe them, among other claims. Responding to the claim, Prophet Makandiwa’s lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri yesterday filed the defendant’s plea giving the church and its two leaders’ side of the story.
Adv Uriri, on behalf of the church leaders, dismissed as false the claims that the couple’s Marlborough property was attached and sold for $500 000 to recover a debt they owed ZB Bank. A research by Prophet Makandiwa’s lawyer revealed that the Mashangwas were never indebted to ZB Bank as alleged.
“Defendants plead by reference to a diligent search in the office of the Registrar of the High Court that ZB Bank Limited never issued out any process against the plaintiffs or Carmeco (a firm owned by the Mashangwas) in 2012 or 2013, praying for judgment in the sum of $500 000 or any other sum and that no judgment was ever entered against the plaintiffs as alleged,” Adv Uriri said.
A further investigation, the lawyers stated, showed that the property in question was never attached in execution as alleged by the Mashangwas. In fact, the plea reads, the said property was separately sold to two legal persons at higher prices and the Mashangwas realised value for a double sale.
“On the contrary, the plaintiffs in their capacity as directors of Carmeco, sold beneficial ownership of the said property to Nemaji Family Trust represented by one Stewart Nyamushaya by agreement dated 29 February 2012, which agreement they admit, but avoid in case number HC6417 /14 on the basis that their nominated receiving agent did not in fact pass on the purchase price to them,” reads the papers.
“The purchase price was paid in full to their nominated agent McDowells International, which amount they recovered from the said McDowells by judgment number HH-288-13 handed down under case number HC2771 /13.
“The judgment was upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court on March 7, 2014.”
The same property was also sold to Walter Magaya.
“The said Walter Magaya and Tendai Magaya executed a power of attorney ‘authorised by the directors of Carmeco’ on the 4th of February 2015 to pass a surety mortgage bond number 379 /2015 over the property as security for a loan advanced by Stanbic Bank to Tendai Magaya and is effectively exercising beneficial ownership as will be revealed by all subsequent mortgage bonds over the property,” reads the papers.
Prophet Makandiwa argued that the Mashangwas misled the court by claiming that the said de-registered lawyer Tichaona Mawere represented them in their court case. Instead, the court record shows that the couple engaged a lawyer called Tichaona Govero of Govero Law Chambers.
Prophet Makandiwa, relying on court records, also dismissed as false claims that the Mashagwas lost the matter in question as a result of the fraudulent misconduct of Mawere. Prophet Makandiwa said the prophecy involving the de-registered lawyer was misinterpreted as it related to Mrs Mawere, who had problems with his husband.
The prophecy related to her personal and family circumstances, which are not relevant for the purposes of this plea. The first defendant asked her where her husband was and Mawere came forward from the congregation.
“First defendant advised the couple that he had perceived that the two were using their legal training and skills to test each other’s intellect and legal acumen in the home, which prophecy the couple affirmed,” reads the papers.
“The first defendant counselled the couple to desist from utilising their legal skills in the home. The first defendant counselled Mawere’s wife on Mawere’s intelligence and stated that she would never win an argument against him.”
Prophet Makandiwa also denied knowledge of the $1,1 million that Mr and Mrs Mashangwa claim to have contributed to the church.
“It is doubtful that the plaintiffs had the capacity to make and consistently sustain such enormous offerings given that during the same period, the first plaintiff was sued by Stanbic Bank in HC7909 /14 over $30 000 loan,” reads the papers.
The lawyers also dismissed as false claims that the Mashangwas shut down Oceane Parfums business after the church leader communicated that the products were cancerous.