Last week High Court judge, Justice David Mangota dismissed United Family International Church (UFIC) leader, Emmanuel Makandiwa and his wife, Ruth’s exceptional application over a lawsuit in which they are being sued for $6,5 million by their former congregants and businessman Upenyu Mashangwa and his wife, Blessing, over alleged false prophecies.
Picking up from where they left on the last hearing in November 2017, the judge who previously reserved his judgment finally ordered the defendants, the Makandiwas to defend themselves saying the Mashangwas claims against them are grounded in alleged fraudulent activities and there is nothing vague in their claims.
His Majesty said:
“The plaintiffs’ (Mashangwa and his wife) 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 for each is clear, cogent and to the point. The claims fall neatly into the delict (wrongful act) of fraud. They are neither frivolous nor vexatious…In the premise, it is ordered that the defendants’ (Makandiwa, Ruth and UFIC) exception in regard to all the six claims be and is, hereby, dismissed with costs.”
This ruling came after the Makandiwas who were last year sued by the Mashangwas, their former congregants, who claimed to have been duped into ‘a debt cancellation miracle’ prophecy, filed an exception application urging the court to decline entertaining the matter, arguing secular courts could not deal with matters of faith and church practice and doctrine.
The plaintiffs were granted leave to amend their declaration and prayer in regard to claims five and six within ten days.
While comparing the Makandiwas’ litigation to the case of incarcerated End Time Message leader, Robert Martin Gumbura, who is serving a 40-year jail term for sexually assaulting his female congregants, Justice Mangota said, “every person is fallible”.
“Two important matters come out of the above-cited case. The first is that every person is infallible. No one is, therefore, immune to making mistakes. That is so notwithstanding the person’s social standing, spiritual or otherwise, in society.’
“The second is that, where one commits a crime or a wrong (i.e. delict), the person cannot escape the long arm of the law. He will either be prosecuted or sued, depending on what he is alleged to have done. Applying the above-observed matters to the current case, therefore, the defendants cannot be allowed to hide behind the proposition that their situation relates to ecclesiastical matters, which the court has no jurisdiction to determine.’
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