NEVER short of controversy, Prophet Walter Magaya is back in the news after hundreds of his followers recently besieged his offices in Cape Town, South Africa, demanding refunds for a botched stands deal.
Zimbabweans resident in the Mother City, as Cape Town is known, want their money back, having failed to get the promised stands three years after making deposits.
Through Planet Africa, the investment arm of Prophet Walter Magaya’s Prophetic and Healing Deliverance Ministries (PHD), Capetonians, as well as a well-meaning number of locals across the country, were asked to pay varying deposits into a housing scheme.
In a grey agreement of sale, the investors (who are named as partners in the agreement) were informed that the stands’ sizes and prices were to vary and be determined after sub-division of the land. The deposits ranged from US$1 000 to US$4 000, with the “partners” obliged to pay monthly subscriptions towards the scheme.
With a three-year tenure, the scheme was meant to provide the first batch of stands early this year but nothing has been delivered. Prophet Magaya has offered to refund local “partners” using an exchange rate of 1:1, despite having taken deposits in US dollars since 2016. The controversial preacher has offered the same amount in Zimbabwe dollars.
Reached for comment, Prophet Magaya, through his spokesperson Admire Mango, said they were aware of the situation and will deliver as per promise once the coronavirus pandemic eases.
“The lockdowns, not only in Zimbabwe but across the world, have affected all spheres of life. Once business returns to normal, we will continue with our housing project as we had planned,” said Mango.
The housing project, with stands to be availed in Harare and Bulawayo, saw Zimbabweans investing in the scheme. Besides Cape Town, other Zimbabweans who invested in the project are in Australia, where a sizeable number are resident.
The housing scandal comes exactly a year after Prophet Magaya was accused of sexual misconduct. The PHD leader has failed to clear his name of the allegations levelled against him by his female congregants.
On July 7 last year, Sarah Maruta and Charity Dlodlo, in different no-holds barred confessions, alleged sexual impropriety on the part of the prophet. Their confessions were to open a can of worms as several other women made similar confessions.
This prompted the Gender Commission of Zimbabwe, a constitutional body, to issue a Government Gazette on August 23 2019, inviting Prophet Magaya’s victims to come forward as part of its investigations to unravel how widespread the allegations were.
“The Government Gazette was also in line with our mandate to safeguard gender equality as enshrined in the Constitution,” explained Mr Tinashe Mazani, the legal officer for the Gender Commission in an interview on Friday.
However, a month after the gazette, Prophet Magaya was to approach the High Court (HC7347/19) seeking an interdict as he felt the Gender Commission did not have the jurisdiction and competence to carry out the investigations.
He contended that if there were any allegations of rape, it was the role of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to investigate, not the Commission. And if the allegations were of an adultery nature, it was not in the place of the Commission, either, to investigate.
Since the Commission had invited victims to approach it, “who were coming in, in their numbers”, Prophet Magaya then filed an urgent chamber application (HC7473/19) on September 6, which was heard on September 16 and judgement delivered on October 22.
The High Court decision was in favour of the Gender Commission continuing with its investigations. Prophet Magaya was to file a Supreme Court appeal (SC592/19) on October 30, which was heard on March 10 this year. The court reserved judgment on the hearing.
“So as the Gender Commission, we are waiting on the Supreme Court judgement as well as the initial High Court application, both which we believe will be landmark rulings as they will define the mandate, operations and scope of independent commissions, not just the Gender Commission,” said Mr Mazani.
— Sunday News