A pastor of Lusaka will spend the next five years preaching the word of God in jail after being convicted of swindling a widow out of K260,000, which was part of her late husband’s benefits. Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma has also ordered that the widow be paid K260,000 to be levied from the convict’s assets.
Magistrate Kaoma was passing judgment in a case John Simfukwe, a pastor of Interdenominational Jesus Ministries in Chipata Overspill, was facing a theft by agent charge. Between August 16, 2016 and August 17 last year, Simfukwe stole K260,000, which he was entrusted with to buy a house for Mildred Chikato, a widow of SOS area in Lusaka.
Ms Chikato also wanted Simfukwe to use K90,000 out of the K260,000 to invest in a business after the pastor told her that he had a contract of supplying food to government schools and other institutions. When the matter came up for judgment yesterday, magistrate Kaoma said the State had proved the case against Simfukwe beyond reasonable doubt.
Magistrate Kaoma said it was a fact that Simfukwe was given the money by the widow and he failed to return it to the owner. He said it was clear that Simfukwe capitalised on the vulnerability of the woman to get the money. Magistrate Kaoma said he convicted Simfukwe because he was persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that he was guilty of theft by agent.
Details of the case are that on Ms Chikato testified that during a church service, she offered K5,000 tithe from her husband’s benefits but Simfukwe asked her to give 10 percent of the total amount as instructed in the book of Malachi. She obliged and gave K33,900 tithe as 10 percent of her husband’s terminal benefits. Simfukwe found a house which was being sold at K170,000 but only paid K65,000.
When it was time for Ms Chikato to move into the house which Simfukwe purportedly ‘bought’, the clergyman kept giving her excuses and asked her to temporarily move into another house.
In his judgment, magistrate Kaoma said Simfukwe took advantage of the widow’s vulnerability and as such needed to be punished.
“I will be failing in my duties if I do not punish offenders to protect the vulnerable