By ENOCK KADEMAUNGA
A PASTOR accused of swindling his church secretary out of K260, 000, which was part of her late husband’s terminal benefits, has denied having received money in the name of helping her buy a house and starting a business.
The pastor said he is only aware of a down payment of K65, 000 for which he signed as a witness on the letter of sale.
This is in a case in which John Simfukwe, 39, of North Gardens, overseer of Interdenominational Jesus Ministries Church in Chipata overspill area in Lusaka is charged with theft by agent.
It is alleged that between August 16, 2016 and August 17 2018, Simfukwe stole K260, 000 which was intrusted to him by Mildred Chikato.
When the matter came up for defence before Lusaka Magistrate Felix Kaoma, Simfukwe said on August 16, 2018 he received a phone call from Lucia Banda [complainants in-law] requesting him to sign as a witness on a letter of sale of a house.
He said the letter of sale was already prepared purporting that Ms Chikato was buying a house and she had paid K65, 000 and there was a balance of K165, 000. Simfukwe denied having been engaged to look for a house for the complainant or holding private prayers saying “during other alleged transactions I was out of Lusaka in Kasama for prayers, I did not have any private prayers with Ms Chikato”.
In her evidence, Ms Chikato testified that “Simfukwe said I am seeing you dying, you are joining your husband. While being counselled he asked about my late husband and his work/ rank. He further asked if I had already gotten the benefits for my late husband. After telling him that I didn’t, He told me to continue praying from his church for things to unfold.
She said Simfukwe called her and her sister-in-law and told them that he had found a house worth K170, 000.
“After receiving K339, 000 pension, I withdrew K170, 000 and gave it to Simfukwe, I also got K90, 000 for business, bringing the total to K260, 000.” she said.
Meanwhile, a prosecutor at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court, Sharia Miselo who owns the house in question narrated that she was not paid in full for the house.
Ms Miselo said Simfukwe only paid K65, 000 a balance of K100, 000 and when she made follow ups, Simfukwe threatened her that she would lose her house.
The matter has been adjourned to February 15 2019 for judgment.