ENOCK KADEMAUNGA writes
A PASTOR of Lusaka denied in a Lusaka magistrates’ court swindling a woman out of K80,500.
The ‘man of God’ allegedly lied to the woman that he had won a lucrative road contract from the government and was looking for partners to work with.
Pastor Sydney Mwandu, 36, of Mountain of the Lord’s House Church is alleged to have told Tina Phiri, 37, that he had won a government contract to build a road in Chingola and that he was looking for partners interested in implementing the project with him.
Pastor Mwandu is charged with obtaining money by false pretences and obtaining credit by false pretences.
It is alleged that between January 2, 2012 and December 28, 2018 in Lusaka, with intent to deceive or defraud, he obtained K80,500 from Ms Phiri by falsely pretending that he had a road government contract in which he needed to partner with her when in fact not.
In count two, it is alleged that on August 2, 2018 in Lusaka, with intent to defraud, incurred a debt amounting to K5,500 from Ms Phiri by falsely pretending that he was going to pay back when in fact not.
When the matter came up for plea before magistrate Alice Walusiku, a composed Mwandu denied both charges and was immediately put on trial.
The complainant and first State witness, Ms Tina Phiri, said she gave Mwandu the money because she trusted him as her pastor.
Ms Phiri testified that she was introduced to Mwandu by his assistant pastor identified as Manasseh in 2008.
She said from that point they started interacting as brothers and sister in the Lord until in 2012.
Ms Phiri said in 2012, while on a public bus from Mtendere Township to Mwandu’s house in Kamwala South, Mwandu started sharing business ideas.
He mentioned winning a government contract.
“Mwandu talked a lot about business. He said he, with friends, had won a government contract to build a road in Chingola and that he needed partners to work with.
“I was interested and later I made a payment of K15,000. He said after the contract we would make a lot of money, but he never told me the actual profit or my cut,” Ms Phiri said.
She said after giving Mwandu the money the ‘man of God’ went quiet for a while.
In 2013 after several follow-ups, he said payments had not been made for the work done and went quiet again.
Ms Phiri said in the same year, she followed up with the payment and Mwandu told her that the government had issued a post-dated cheque but it had not materialised because of the change of government from Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) to the Patriotic Front (PF).
“Mwandu later came back from Chingola saying the cheque had not materialised due to change in government. So they [the government] decided to cancel the contract.
“I asked him how I would recover my money. He said he would pay me from his pocket, but I kept on waiting. To date Mwandu has not paid me anything,” she said.
Ms Phiri said later in 2015 during a church gathering, he announced that he had won a contract with Dangote Cement to supply ingredients for manufacturing cement.
“He asked me to go with him to Ndola. The purpose of the trip was that we confirm the contract and submit the company profile.
“But upon reaching Ndola, Mwandu remained in the car and pushed us to go and submit
. We submitted three company profiles and left Ndola. Mwandu remained,” Ms Phiri testified.
She said later that year Mwandu announced in church again that he had bought a truck which was to be used for transporting the cement ingredients.
Ms Phiri said in September 2015, she gave Mwandu K32,000 for clearing the truck which he said had arrived at Walvis Bay Port in Namibia after he called her that he needed extra money.
“I deposited K20,000 in Siloam Zambia Limited’s account number 0140075003201 held at Standbic Bank and the K12,000 I gave to Manasseh who said he had deposited the money in the clearing agency account,” she said.
Ms Phiri said two months later, Mwandu asked for another K30,000 after explaining that he had given a post-dated cheque to a client but the money was not ready in good time. So to avoid legal processes he needed the money to pay off the client while he waited for payment from Dangote.
“In October 2017, Mwandu said due to errors during work, Dangote would not pay the truck driver and that the only way to recover the money she had invested in the business was to sell the truck.
“He said to sell the truck, he needed K3,500 for spares to repair it and bring it to Lusaka. There was no documentation because all this was based on mutual trust,” Ms Phiri said.
She said Mwandu never brought the truck to Lusaka but just informed her that a Mr Tembo had bought it on the Copperbelt.
Ms Phiri said at a deferent time, she gave Mwandu a K5,500 credit.
She said she deposited the money in his personal account held at First National Bank (FNB), account number 6275868785, which he promised to pay back but he went quiet.
The matter was adjourned to June 19, 2019 for continuation of trial.