Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and his wife Ruth have eventually been unclogged from the multi-million legal wrangle with their former congregants Mr and Mrs Mashangwa in which the later alleges falling prey to a prophecy which affirmed them a “debt cancellation”.
The High Court, as ruled by Justice Owen Tagu, this week granted the United Family International Church (UFIC) power couple an order that they have no case to defend and dismissed the six claims by the Upenyu and Blessing Mashangwa.
Was This Even A Legit Case?
Now that this case has come to its tailpiece, this tabloid hereby presents a background of the proceeds and events that build up this case as heard by the High Court.
In 2017 the Mashangwas, who owns Oceans Collection Perfumes, crept the clergy to court for tricking them in what they alleged was a “false prophecy” promise.
The court determined that prophet Makandiwa, accessorized by his wife, told the business doubleton that their US$500 000 bank loan would be canceled in a “debt cancellation miracle” and would then encourage them to continue “seeding” to UFIC in offerings and tithes, allegedly using the money they meant to repay the bank with.
Regrettably, the debt-clearing marvel as proclaimed by the UFIC head-honcho did not materialize and the Mwashangwas ended up losing their Marlborough house which was attached and sold for $500 000 instead of $700 000.
The court papers read,
“When making the representations, first defendant (Prophet Makandiwa) and second defendant (Prophetess Ruth Makandiwa) knew that it was, in fact, false and fraudulent. When the first and second defendants made the representations, they intended the plaintiffs to act thereon and in the result, increase on their monetary contributions to first, second and third defendants(UFIC).”
In the suit, the UFIC leader was also being sued for US$1, 7 million for recommending a de-registered lawyer who was to dupe the business couple.
It was heard that the prophet prophesied during a UFIC service that Mr Tichaona Mawere was a distinguished advocate who would never lose a case. He allegedly advised the couple to enlist Mr Mawere in their frantic bid to recover US$1, 7 million from money lender McDowell International in the ensuing week.
And again, sadly for the Mashangwas, Mr Mawere lost the case, resulting in the couple hiring another attorney who then won the case at the Supreme Court. However, the US$1, 7 million could not be reimbursed as McDowell International was placed under provisional liquidation at the time Mr Mawere was “playing court games with fake High Court orders”.
Mr Mawere allegedly duped Mr and Mrs Mashangwa into paying US$37 000 in “legal fees”.
The court papers read,
“When making these representations, First and Second Defendants knew it to be false in that the said Tichaona Mawere was, in fact, not a registered lawyer and, therefore, he was not competent to represent anyone.”
The High Court further heard that between the years 2011 and 2016 the Mashangwas gave US$1, 1 million to Prophet Makandiwa and his church.
Regularly, it was alleged that Prophet Makandiwa would invite the millionaire couple before the congregation, brandishing them for their exceptional generosity to the Church and as examples of success in the parish.
A round-up of the sums the couple claimed to have contributed to the Makandiwas and UFIC monthly ranges between US$1 000 and US$25 000, with the prophet promising them commensurate benefits.
The Mashangwas also demanded $2 million in compensation, claiming that their name was used to advance Makandiwa’s interests, adding that he also defamed them and their fragrance business using newspaper articles.
Prophet Makandiwa and his wife would later file an exception application through their lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri after receiving the summons, contending that secular courts could not deal with matters of faith, church practice, and doctrine.
Albeit, High Court judge Justice David Mangota dismissed the application, saying the Mashangwas’ claims against were in fact grounded in alleged fraudulent activities and not in the contract.
Early last year, the Makandiwas again filed another court application, saying the lawsuit against them was a grandstanding to harass, vex and injure their reputation and good standing.
“The defendants (Makandiwas and UFIC) plead generally that this action is an unmitigated and vexatious and contempt of this court and its processes whose sole purpose is grandstanding to harass, vex and injure the defendants in their reputation and good standing,” said the Makandiwas.
In their affidavit, the Makandiwas who was represented by Lewis Uriri denied ever making the couple’s debt cancellation prophecy, which induced the Mashwangwa to ignore a $500 000 debt which they had with a local financial institution, leading to them losing their property.
Said the Makandiwas;
“The defendants deny that they made the alleged representation to the plaintiffs in the manner alleged or at all. The defendants specifically deny using the words ‘anyone with a bank debt or loan would (have the same) cancelled as it was the season of miraculous cancellation of debts’.
It is denied that the plaintiffs lost ‘their property’. The property was at all material times owned and registered company called Carmeco Investments (Private) Limited…The property remains owned by, and registered to Carmeco. In 2012, the plaintiffs were the directors of Carmeco and presumably the beneficial owners of the property. The present directors and/or beneficial owners of Carmeco…are one Walter Magaya and one Tendai Magaya.”
Uriri contended, adding that the Mashangwas lost their house, if any, to a third party, which matter had nothing to do with the church.
He further denied the Mashangwas ever making a direct contribution to his clients and fraudulently inducing them to part with their money.
“The defendants made freewill offerings in accordance with their own respective personal and individual faith and conviction. Such giving was to the work of the church… It is denied that such free-will offerings amounted to direct contributions to the defendants.”
The court heard that the Makandiwas did not know about the $1 100 000 contributions allegedly made by the plaintiffs and also dismissed that the Mashangwas shut down Oceane Perfumes business after the church leader claimed that the products were cancerous.
“The couple lies that their business closed down due to defamatory statements (by Prophet Makandiwa). Evidence on the company’s Facebook account suggests otherwise and affidavits by Takawira Nzombe and Mrs Winnet Nyakabawo who purchased products from the said business show that no such closure took place.
Makandiwa seeks the dismissal of the lawsuit on the basis of the claims’ falsehoods and the frivolous and vexatious nature of the entire lawsuits,” said the affidavit.
Now That The Court Has Ruled…
So, in light of what the court has resolved, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and Ruth have not done anything wrong as they summarily dismissed all the six claims as false, frivolous and vexatious.
The lawsuit, however, since its inception stirred a big conversation on the art of prophecy and seership and its role as an infallible and unimpeachable divine institution of the deity.
It also raised the question of whether believers, who acting thereof upon the basis of their own faith and understanding of divinity should sue men of the cloth in the event of unfulfilled ‘prophecies and miracles’.
Another problem that arises with this lawsuit and many other of its kind is that they have no value in Zimbabwean society as the state does not have an autonomous Ministry of Religion which in this case could be weighing on these matters of heart and faith.
What enshrined in the Constitution is a mere clause that issues religious freedom as part of the fundamental freedoms to be protected, and that allows the practice of any kind of faith in the country as long as it poses no harm on humanity.
Thus, in Prophet Makandiwa’s wording, “secular courts could not deal with matters of faith, church practice, and doctrine”. Until they can…
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