United Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and wife, Ruth, will tomorrow appear before High Court Judge Justice David Mangota for allegedly making fake prophecies concerning businessman and former UFIC member, Mr Upenyu Mashangwa.
A High Court notice, dated October 31, 2017; shows the Makandiwa-Mashangwa case has been set for hearing in court chambers at 3pm tomorrow (Monday).
In August 2017, Mr Mashangwa and his wife, Blessing, filed a US$6,5 million lawsuit against Prophet Makandiwa over the “fake prophecies”, fraud and defamation.
However, the church leader sought exception, arguing that matters of faith could not be handled by a secular court.
Tomorrow’s interface involves discussions between the parties and Justice Mangota’s determination on the application for exception.
The matter will go to trial if exception is denied.
The Mashangwas want compensation from Prophet Makandiwa for allegedly misleading them several times.
They allege Prophet Makandiwa convinced them to hire de-registered lawyer Mr Tichawona Mawere, and to continue “seeding” in order to get a debt-cancellation miracle.
The couple’s property worth US$500 000 ended up being attached over the debt, according to court papers.
Through Advocate Lewis Uriri (instructed by Mr Wilson Manase), Prophet Makandiwa said secular courts could not get involved in faith-related issues.
Adv Uriri said, “The plaintiffs’ summons and declaration are excipiable in that they do not disclose any cause of action against any of the defendants. The plaintiffs’ 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 action.”
Mr Mashangwa, represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu (instructed by Mr Jonathan Samukange) hit back, “Instead of meeting the claims made head-on and establishing the truth of their representations, the prophets have decided to hide behind the curtains of legalism and subterfuge.
“They abuse the process of the court in doing so, much the same way they abused the trust reposed in them by the plaintiffs. The exception raised must be dismissed with costs. It is an annoyance.”
Adv Mpofu argued, “In the premises, it is clear that the exception taken is an annoyance. It is an alternative to the absence of a defence. The bottom-line is that it is without a basis acceptable at law.
“The exception ought to fail and defendants must be forced to defend their ways. The law would otherwise fail in its purpose. The time has come for the court to either interpret existing principles of law or extend them in answering the key question being whether these prophets are immune from suit if they mislead their followers. This case is important for that reason.”
He alleged “religious brainwashing”, and implored the court to dismiss Prophet Makandiwa’s exception application.
“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. What is simply required when fraud is alleged is that the allegation must be specific. This matter does not, however, require the court to enquire into matters ecclesiastical.
“It requires the court to enquire into defendants’ lies. It requires the court to deal with the so-called ‘seeding’ practice that has reduced many a believer to penury. Can that kind of religious brainwashing be permitted by the court?
“Should the prophets wear their sleek suits and get away with stealing from the tormented?
‘‘These with respect are the questions which must be answered by the court. The court can only do so after hearing evidence and considering the circumstances under which the religious brainwashing occurs.”
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