United Family International Church leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and his wife, Ruth, are being sued for $6,5 million over alleged “fake prophecies, fraud and defamation”.
Harare-based businessman Mr Upenyu Mashangwa and his spouse, Blessing, filed the lawsuit at the High Court last Thursday, giving the Makandiwas and UFIC 10 days to respond.
The Mashangwas — both ex-UFIC members — allege Prophet Makandiwa in 2012 misrepresented that they would encounter a “debt cancellation miracle” and encouraged them to continue “seeding”.
However, the couple’s house in Marlborough, Harare was later attached and sold for $500 000 instead of US$700 000.
They are now demanding the $700 000 from Prophet Makandiwa.
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.”
The Mashangwas also want Prophet Makandiwa to pay them $1,7 million for recommending a de-registered lawyer who was to dupe them.
Prophet Makandiwa is said to have prophesied during a UFIC church service that Mr Tichaona Mawere was a brilliant lawyer who would never lose a case.
The following week, he allegedly advised the couple to engage Mr Mawere in their frantic bid to recover $1,7 million from money lender McDowell International.
Mr Mawere failed to win the case, resulting in the Mashangwas engaging another lawyer who then won the case at the Supreme Court.
However, the $1,7 million could not be recovered Bas 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.
“For a period of about 18 months, the said Tichaona Mawere produced fake High Court orders, which were brought to the attention of the First and Second Defendants who insisted that everything was in order.”
According to the court documents, Mr and Mrs Mashangwa gave US$1,1 million to Prophet Makandiwa and his church between 2011 and 2016.
Occasionally, it is alleged, Prophet Makandiwa would invite the millionaires to the pulpit, parading them as examples of success in UFIC.
The couple is said to have contributed between US$1 000 and US$25 000 monthly to the Makandiwas and UFIC monthly, with Prophet Makandiwa promising them commensurate benefits.
“Plaintiffs were induced by the misrepresentations made to them by the First and Second Defendants, and had they known the true facts, they would not have made such contributions.
“Wherefore, Plaintiffs’ claim jointly and severally, the one paying the other to be absolved is for the payment of the sum of US$1 100 000 together with costs on a legal practitioner and client scale.”
The Mashangwas are demanding US$2 million compensation because their name was used to advance Prophet Makandiwa’s interests.
In addition, the couple alleges suffering “mental anguish” after publication of their private life on Facebook page “The Truth About Prophet Makandiwa”.
“Plaintiffs were used to market the First Defendant’s prophecies for the advancement of the Defendants’ interests and their prophecies as the success story of the prophecies when, in truth and in fact, this was sheer misrepresentation.”
Venturas and Samukange Legal Practitioners are representing the Mashangwas.