HIGH Court judge Justice David Mangota, on Monday reserved judgment in the lawsuit in which United Family International Church (UFIC) leader Emmanuel Makandiwa and his wife, Ruth are being sued for $6,5 million by their former congregants, businessman Upenyu Mashangwa and his wife, Blessing, over alleged false prophecies.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Through their lawyer Advocate Lewis Uriri, the Makandiwas, filed an exception application to the lawsuit sometime in September this year and urged the court to decline entertaining the matter arguing the circular courts could not deal with issues involving matters of faith, church practice and doctrine.
But, the businessman’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu opposed the exception application and urged the prophets “not to hide behind curtains of legalism and subterfuge” but to defend the claim in court.
In their lawsuit Mashangwa and his wife claimed that sometime in 2012 Makandiwa misrepresented in his prophecy that the couple would encounter a “debt cancellation miracle” before encouraging them to continue giving to the church.
But, as time went by the couple said, their Marlborough house in Harare was attached and sold for $500 000 instead of $700 000 among other losses which they encountered later.
However, in response to the litigations, Makandiwa and his wife said the Mashangwas’ claims were vague and embarrassing and could not be dealt with by circular courts since they involved issues of faith.
“The plaintiffs (Mashangwas) summons and declaration are further excipiable on the ground that they are vague and embarrassing and the vagueness and embarrassment go to the root cause of the action,” Makandiwa’s lawyer said.
“The plaintiff did not plead undue influence or duress to influence the paying of varying sums being contributions to any of the defendants (Makandiwas). In other words the plaintiffs are seeking to invite a circular court to inquire into matters of faith and the observance thereof being matters in respect of which a circular court is not equipped to inquire into.”
In its response the business couple said “instead of meeting the claims head on and establishing the truth of their representations, the prophets had decided to hide behind curtains of legalism and subterfuge”.
“The power of God is undoubted and every believer would believe that God can do anything. The case brought however, is that God had not spoken to the Makandiwas about debt cancellation, they abused the name of God and took advantage of their congregants who believe in the power of God and who were of the view that the ‘prophets’ had communion with Him. The plaintiffs allege that the false and fraudulent representation having been made, they took certain decisions to their prejudice,” Mpofu said.
“A self-respecting, self-proclaimed prophet must react to these allegations and meet them head on.
“These, strike at everything that defendants stand for. That a claim lies when a fraudulent misrepresentation is made is beyond doubt.”-amh