Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
A representative of Walter Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries appeared in court yesterday for trial on charges of the church evading paying tax on income amounting to more than $28 million.
Magaya and his wife Tendai also stand accused of drawing millions in salaries from the church account without paying Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
Before the trial could commence yesterday, defence lawyers made an application for more time to prepare their defence, arguing that they were served with the relevant papers on Wednesday.
Regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya acceded to the application and set March 21 as the new trial date. Mr Nelson Marimo was the church representative, while Mr Everson Chatambudza was the defence lawyer. Mr Chatambudza said he was served with the relevant papers on Wednesday by prosecutor Mr George Manokore, hence the need for additional time to prepare the defence. To support his application for postponement, Mr Chatambudza indicated that there were some issues they needed to verify and agree on with the State before the trial commenced.
Magaya’s church is being charged for breaching Value Added Tax (VAT) regulations on over $28 million realised from sale of church wares since 2013.
According to the State, the church raises revenue from selling church regalia, anointing oil, holy water and from its guest house. It is alleged that sometime in October last year, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) conducted tax investigations and recovered financial statements from PHD for the period extending from 2013 to 2017.
The court heard that ZIMRA recovered financial statements from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe which were submitted by PHD for a loan application.
The statements showed that the church realised sales amounting to $28 706 040 between 2013 and 2017.
It is alleged that during that period, the church did not submit income tax returns to ZIMRA. The court heard that during the same period, PHD paid remuneration amounting to $950 522,99 to Magaya’s wife, Tendai, directly into her personal Stanbic Bank account.
PHD also transferred remuneration of US $2 403 658,24 to Magaya’s Stanbic Bank account and on both occasions, the church evaded tax by not paying Pay As You Earn.
It is the State case that Magaya’s church had no records of all goods and services that it sells and purchases, in violation of the VAT Act.