The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
A tough synthetic resin made by polymerising tetrafluoroethylene, chiefly used to coat non-stick cooking utensils and to make seals and bearings.
Denoting someone whose reputation remains undamaged in spite of scandal or misjudgement
WHEN pictures and videos of Prophet Walter Magaya’s burning Yadah Hotel surfaced on Thursday night and early Friday morning, the raging ball of flame sitting on top of the exclusive piece of property in Waterfalls seemed to excite some social media users.
Indeed, there seemed to be only few posts that commiserated with the Man of God, but these were only a few drops of sympathy in a sea of scorn. Ordinarily this would be odd.
In a majority Christian nation, one would not expect a fire sweeping through the property of one of the country’s most popular prophets to bring a smile on any face.
On Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp however, the jubilation at Magaya’s loss was there for all to see.
“Why did Magaya not see the fire coming?” some asked, showing no sympathy for his loss while at once questioning his ability as a seer.
On various platforms, such comments were common and congregants of Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries on social media would perhaps have been taken aback by the attack on their spiritual father by keyboard warriors who seemed to have been waiting for an opportunity to dance on his grave.
If he had taken his phone and refreshed the timelines on any of his social media accounts Magaya, at least on Friday, might have felt like a man under attack.
It is certainly a feeling that his close confidants seemed to also have in the aftermath of the costly blaze.
“We do not rule out foul play. Police are investigating and we do not want to jump to conclusions.
The police will give us the full information, but the preliminary findings point to the fact that there could be some foul play and we are very suspicious of whatever is happening given the events of the last few days.
We can tell that there is an underhand thing that is happening,” said PHD spokesperson Overseer Simango after the incident.
If one had been reading the papers over the first six months of the year, it would not be hard to see why those dedicated to Magaya and his cause might believe that the Man of God is indeed under siege.
In the first half of the year, the charismatic preacher’s lawyers have been very busy, as he has been dragged to court more often than the average common criminal.
Yet in those six months, Magaya has not been convicted of anything that would be enough to land him behind bars.
Indeed, the fact that he has seemingly been walking away scot free may be what made some celebrate the partial destruction of a hotel which, in the grander scheme of things, may only be a very small part of his vast and growing business empire.
Among his detractors, there is perhaps a feeling that Magaya is getting away with alleged crimes that, so far, remain unproven by any court of law.
It is this fact that has led to a feeling of despair and hopelessness among some who claim to be his victims.
“I’m not okay with this whole Magaya issue.
I try but I just find myself going back to it and saying this is cr** and it’s not fair. In case I wake up dead, kindly help my family get to the end of this.
The frustration is overwhelming; the sense of hopelessness is consuming me.
Why do we have to suffer because of an individual?” said one such “victim” Ms Bethel Mutasa.
Ms Mutasa claimed that her father had been swindled US$14 000 by Magaya and had subsequently died due to a stress related illness.
She told Sunday Life this week that her financially troubled family was now facing eviction from the Mpopoma home they have been renting.
While many of his cases are still pending before the courts, the Man of God has already been convicted by some in the court of public opinion because of such testimonies.
The law takes its time however, and in only six months of the year, the renowned prophet has been abusing the stationery in law enforcement offices as charge sheet after charge sheet bearing his name is written up.
A number of the court cases are yet to be decided.
In February this year, Prophet Magaya pleaded guilty and was subsequently convicted for contravening sections of the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act through manufacturing and marketing an anti-HIV drug without first clearing with authorities.
In May, he was dragged to the High Court over failure to repay a loan amounting to US$23 million to Homelink Finance (Private) Limited. That case was settled out of court.
In June, the courts ruled that evidence retrieved from computers seized from PHD church that can be used as evidence in the church’s ongoing tax evasion trial. PHD is alleged to have prejudiced the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) of over $28 million.
Also in June, one of the prophet’s bodyguards, James Dzamu, was dragged to court for issuing death threats after actress Charity Dhlodhlo claimed that he had told her that she might lose her life if she continued to drag the prophet’s name through the mud.
The court held that the State had failed to prove its case and acquitted Dzamu, ending a case that threatened to cast Magaya as some kind of mafia churchman.
Last week, a video surfaced with the parents of a woman, Mrs Chenai Agatha Maenzanise-Hassan, claiming that she had been manipulated, raped and impregnated by the charismatic prophet.
A few days later, the “victim” surfaced to clear his name.
It is a similar outcome to another case in which Magaya is alleged to have raped and unlawfully terminated the pregnancy of a female church congregant.
The victim on the occasion also asked that all charges against her erstwhile spiritual father be withdrawn, as she had been lying about the allegations.
“Any criminal process is driven by a complainant,” the alleged victim’s lawyer told the Harare High Court last year.
“The complainant is saying ‘if I proceed I would be telling lies throughout the trial and the fact that I made an application seeking to be excused from the proceedings, I also need to be heard’ . . . ”
Prosecutors decided to forge ahead with that case despite the absence of their star witness, who is now in Germany, as they believed that the victim had been paid off.
The dawn of each day seems to bring about a raft of charges against the prophet but this hardly seems to deter the thousands that flock to his congregation. After all, he has not been found guilty of most of the various offences he has been charged with.
While some greeted the demise of one of his properties with cheers, it did not seem to make a dent on his supporters who continue to defend their “papa” vehemently on social media and on the streets.
Thousands still stand ready to kneel at his feet.
As long as his disciples stick by his side, perhaps Magaya will believe that he is also a Teflon Don — one of those rare men who are always charged but are never really found guilty of anything damaging.
So far, nothing that has been thrown his way has truly stuck. As the law, like a dark cloud, continues to hover over him, Magaya will be hoping and praying that his winning streak continues.