A 47-year-old woman of Lusaka’s SOS area has narrated to the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court how a pastor of Interdenominational Jesus Ministries swindled her out of over K260,000 in the name of helping her to start a business and buying a house for her.
This is in the matter in which John Simfukwe, a pastor of Interdenominational Jesus Ministries in Chipata Overspill is charged with theft by agent.
Simfukwe is alleged to have swindled his congregant Chikato between August 16, 2016 and August 17, 2018, out of her K260,000 cash which was entrusted to him to buy a house and for doing business.
When the matter came up before magistrate Felix Kaoma, Monday, Mildred Mutanga Chikato told the court that she gave Simfukwe K170, 000 to help her purchase a house and another K90,000 to assist her with business.
She said the money was part of her late husband’s benefits who was working for Zambia Army.
Chikato narrated that in 2016, she had gone to visit her sister-in-law in Chipata Overspill when she joined her for prayers at Simfukwe’s church.
She said when they reached church, Pastor Simfukwe, who was the preaching, prophesied to her that he could see a spirit of death.
“On August 16, 2016, I withdrew K170,000 to buy a house. The money was part of the benefits that I got from my husband. My late husband was working under Zambia army and he died on December 24, 2018. I received K339,000 as his benefits in July 2016. How I knew him (Simfukwe), I went to visit my sister in law on a Sunday, she was my husband’s cousin. She was going to church and I said I would go with her. When we reached church, pastor John Simfukwe was the one preaching. He prophesied to me saying he was seeing a spirit of death. He then stopped and told me that I should go for counseling,” she narrated.
Chikato said when she went for counseling, the man of God continued with his prophesy saying he was seeing her dying and joining her husband.
She said during counselling, Simfukwe asked her where her late husband was working before he died, his rank and whether she had already collected his benefits.
“The following day when I entered the counseling room, pastor Simfukwe continued with his prophesy. He said ‘I’m seeing you dying, you are joining your husband’. Well, I asked for prayers. Then as I was still being counselled, he asked me where my late husband was working and his rank. He further asked if I had already gotten the benefits for my late husband. I told him that I have not gotten them. Then he said you should continue coming so that he continues praying for me in order for things to unfold. That’s when I became a member of the church,” she said.
Chikato said after five months of congregating at the church, she got the benefits and took K5,000 tithe to the same church but Simfukwe asked her how much she was paid in full.
She testified that the pastor then told her that the K5,000 she had taken was not 10 percent of her earnings, as guided by the Bible.
Chikato said the following day, she added another K28,900 to make the tithe K33,900.
“I got the benefits five months later. After the money was out, I remember taking tithe to the same church of K5,000 on August 5, 2016. When I went with with that K5,000 pastor Simfukwe asked me that how much did you get? Being a Christian, I didn’t want to hide and told him that I got K339,000. He told me that the money I had taken to him was not 10 percent because the Bible said you need to give 10 percent tithe. The following day, I topped K28,900 on the initial money I had taken. The total became K33,900 tithe,” she said.
Chikato narrated that the pastor then asked her what she wanted to do with the money and after she explained to him, he offered to help her buy a house.
“At that time I had gone with my sister-in-law. He asked me that ‘what do you want to do with the money that you have?’ I told him that I wanted to buy a house then the rest of the money I wanted to save it in a fixed account since I had children in school, the other money was for me to start up a business. He said he can help me buy a house,” she said.
Chikato said on August 10, 2016, the pastor called her and informed her that he had found a house for her near Petroda in Matero North.
She said when asked how much the house was, the pastor informed her that it was going at K170, 000 after negotiations.
Chikato said there was no document to show that she had given Simfukwe the money because he refused to sign any documents on grounds that he was a man of God.
“We asked for the price of the house and he said it was going at K170,000. He said that was after he had negotiated. He then used his phone to call the owner of the house, after talking to the house owner, he told us that the house was going at K200,000. Then we decided to use the pastor since he had already negotiated so that we could save the rest. I then gave him a K170,000 on August 16, 2016. I didn’t have any document, he refused to sign a written agreement saying he was a man of God,” she said.
Chikato said she was supposed to shift to the same house on September 30, 2016 but the pastor asked her to wait saying there were some documents which were still being finalised.
Chikato said to date, she had not shifted into the house because the pastor kept giving her excuses.
She said after contacting the owner of the house, she discovered that the house was not paid for in full, as only K65,000 was paid out of K170,000.
Chikato said she had also given the pastor K90,000 to help her start business, bringing the total amount to K260,000, which to date had not been paid.
Earlier, the owner of the house Sheria Miselo said although she had agreed to sell the house at K165, 000,Simfukwe only paid her K65, 000 and promised to pay the balance of K100,000 on September 30, 2016 which to date had not been paid.
Trial continues on November 5, 2018.