A University of Zimbabwe lecturer lost US$3 800 bride price to his church leader and a self-styled prophet belonging to an apostolic sect during prayer sessions.
Archiford Kurauone Mtetwa (34) of Broadlands Road, Mt Pleasant, in Harare joined Johane Masowe weChishanu apostolic sect in August 2013 after consulting with his friend George Machaya, a member.
The sect operates at an open space in Unit N, Chitungwiza. In March this year, Mtetwa had plans to marry his fiancée but was facing some problems and he asked his pastor Wisdom Hapunga for guidance.
Hapunga began praying for Mtetwa for the marriage to be successful.
Mtetwa fell ill towards the day prompting him to visit Hapunga for some prayers since his health was deteriorating.
During the sessions, Hapunga claimed to have prophesied that Mtetwa was going to die in a road accident after paying lobola.
He said Mtetwa's life was at stake since someone was bewitching him forcing the latter to delay the marriage.
Hapunga ordered Mtetwa to bring the money for cleansing.
Later Hapunga handed Mtetwa two pieces of red cloths to wrap the money in separate batches of US$3 800 and US$400.
Mtetwa returned the money to Hapunga who was in another room before ordering him to kneel for the prayers.
During the prayer Hapunga swapped the cloth containing US$3 800 with the one he had stashed with some guava leaves and placed it into Mtetwa's hand.
Mtetwa was reminded not to open or use the money when he returned to his house and would do so after Hapunga's instruction.
The following day, Hapunga bought a car for US$3 300 and later called Mtetwa to meet him for prayers that would be conducted at the Great Dyke.
After a prayer at the mountains, Hapunga told Mtetwa that he could not locate the money which he claimed was stolen at Westgate by some people who practise satanism.
The matter was reported to the police leading to Hapunga's arrest.
Hapunga was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to theft charges before magistrate Mr Lazarus Murendo.
One year was suspended for five years and six months were set aside on condition he pays back $3 800 to Mtetwa.
He would be in prison for three and half years.
Mr Tendai Mukariri prosecuted.