By Mary Taruvinga
THE tax evasion case in which the Prophetic Healing Deliverance (PHD) ministries, founded by self-proclaimed prophet Walter Magaya Tuesday, took a dramatic twist after the church disowned its financial statements.
Magaya’s church is accused of evading tax prejudicing the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zmira) of over RTGS$28 million in revenue.
Prosecutors allege the offense was committed between 2013 and 2018 but the church through its representative, Nelson Tawanda Marimo denies the allegations arguing it only receives money from tithes and offerings made by congregants.
However, Marimo on Tuesday disowned the financial statements before he accused Zimra official, Tinashe Madakadze of crafting the documents.
Marimo through his lawyer, Oliver Marwa objected to the tendering of the documents in court forcing a trial within a trial in order to establish how Zimra ended up with the financial statements.
Madakadze told court that Zimra made several efforts to get financial statements from PHD but Magaya’s officials were evasive.
He said this prompted Zimra to raid the church offices with support from 10 police officers.
“We seized computers which were locked with passwords. We requested Marimo to unlock the computers but he sent two officials Tatenda Chinguwa and Winnie Matimati who helped us to access the statements,” he said.
“He (Marimo) wrote a letter authorising two employees to unlock the computers. “I asked the two employees to authenticate the printed documents by stamping them but they refused saying Marimo was better placed to do that.”.
Madakadze said Marimo refused to stamp the documents and instead wrote a letter accepting the figures on the financial statement,” he said.
The letter which Marimo wrote was tendered in court as an exhibit.
While cross examining Madakadze, Marwa insisted that the witness fabricated the financial statements.
“Because you didn’t bring the computer from which the documents were printed, the court may never know what is contained in the computer. We cannot just support your mere say so because you did not bring the computer,” Marwa said.
“How do we know that you didn’t retrieve the statement from any computer?
“There is not even a date stamp to show that the accused accepted the financial statements and its possible that you may have created it own your own.”
The case was postponed to this Wednesday for ruling.
PHD is facing charges of contravening the Value Added Tax Act.
Alternatively, the church’s representative is accused of breaching the Income Tax Act, by failing to keep proper records, declare records and failure to uphold the Employees Act.
But Marimo denies the charges arguing they were created to destroy the church.
It is state’s case that between 2013 and 2017 the church paid remuneration amounting to US$950 522.99 to Magaya’s wife, Tendai through bank transfer into her personal Stanbic Bank account.
PHD also allegedly transferred remuneration of US $2 403 658 to Walter Magaya’s Stanbic bank account and on both occasions, PHD evaded tax by not paying PAYE (pay as you earn).
Marimo denied the allegations: “These amounts were for loans repayments only that the two’s bank accounts were used as conduits for easy accounting purposes.”