He is not turning the other cheek. Charismatic man-of-God Dr Prophet Blessing Chiza — founder of Eagle Life Assembly church in Bulawayo has sued a local businessman for defrauding him of $2 400.
John Chingonzoh, director of Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd situated in Belmont Industrial Site, was sued by Dr Prophet Chiza after he allegedly neglected, refused or shown disinterest in supplying and fitting a perforated roller shutter gate at his mansion in Reigate.
The stinging legal fight began in July last year when Prophet Chiza sent summons to Chingonzoh advising him that he breached their agreement of supplying and fitting a perforated roller shutter gate at his house.
Prophet Chiza, in his declaration, stated that he paid the whole amount of $2 400 through a bank transfer on 2 March 2017 towards the supplying and fitting a perforated roller shutter gate.
“Plaintiff (Dr Prophet Chiza) and defendant (Chingonzoh) entered into an agreement sometime in February 2017 where defendant was tasked to supply and fit a perforated roller shutter gate at plaintiff’s residential address at an amount of $ 2 400.
“Plaintiff paid the whole amount of $2 400 through a bank transfer on 2 March 2017. Despite demand by plaintiff from defendant to discharge his obligation, the latter has neglected, refused or shown disinterest in supplying and fitting the gate.
“Wherefore the plaintiff prays for the following order, payment of the sum of $2 400 at the prescribed rate and cost of suit at an attorney and client scale,” reads the suit in part.
When Chingonzoh failed to enter an appearance to defend himself within the prescribed time (seven days), Prophet Chiza applied for a default judgment which was granted on 22 September 2017.
The ruling didn’t go down well with Chingonzoh who through his lawyers, Ncube and Partners, promptly filed for rescission of judgment claiming the judgment was erroneously granted against him.
“This is an application for rescission of default judgment erroneously granted against me on 22 September 2017. I am advised that such an application has no time limit as it relates to issues of law, which can be raised anytime. I am further advised that this Honourable Court had jurisdiction to set aside any judgments granted in error.
“I am the director of Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd and sometime in May 2017, Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd and respondent entered into a contract wherein the aforementioned company was to supply and fit two roller doors. An amount of $2 400 was transferred into Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd’s bank account.
“Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd duly preformed their obligations in terms of the contract as they supplied the respondent with two roller shutter doors. Further I was advised by my legal practitioners that a company is a legal entity that can be sued and sue in its own capacity and thus Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd had separate legal existence,” argued Chingonzoh.
He declared that he was cited erroneously in the summons in that there were no contractual obligations that existed between Dr Prophet Chiza and him while adding that on that basis, the default judgment was “null and void”.
Chingonzoh’s application for a rescission of judgment apparently courted the anger of Prophet Chiza who promptly filed a counter application in which he launched a scathing attack on the businessman saying individuals should not go about forming companies they use as conduits to commit acts of fraud and conveniently use the entity as a shield to avoid legitimate claims.
Prophet Chiza said Chingonzoh, “sought to undo the damage when, literally, the horses have bolted out of the stables”.
“Default judgment was granted after the applicant had failed to enter an appearance to defend as prescribed in terms of the rules. Default judgment was then sought and granted three months after personal service of summons.
“The applicant has now sought to undo the damage when, literally, the horses have bolted out of the stables. He is seeking to rescind judgment some four months after the granting of the judgment.
“I am advised, and have no reason to doubt that the applicant is out of time, and hopelessly so, for which condonation must first be sought and granted before a request for rescission of judgment can be entertained. These reasons are strong to warrant dismissal of the application on the attorney and client scale,” argued Prophet Chiza.
He insisted that the default judgment was not granted in error.
“As demonstrated above the applicant was served with summons personally on 14 July 2017. He was served at Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. At the expiry of the seven- day period, and indeed, at the day of default judgment, 3 October 2017, the applicant had not seen it fit to take any action, despite understanding the impact of failing to act.
“I however, notice that the applicant seems to take for granted the importance of observing the provisions of the rules of court, suggesting brazenly that such application has no time limit. This, to me is a clear indication of a litigant who is acutely aware of the fact that he is out of time but has decided to test the harsh waters of the court.
“I didn’t enter into an agreement with Winnerman Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. I dealt with the applicant and whether he decided to use his company as a front, was entirely his choice. I agree that a company is a separate entity at law.
What I also know is that individuals should not go about forming companies they use as conduits to commit acts of fraud and conveniently use the entities as a shield to avoid legitimate claims.
“As a matter of fact, the applicant did not do anything about the summons and now conveniently wants to use the company which he knows very well is now under judicial management, a situation which is being used to keep creditors at bay to avoid payment of debts”.
He said Chingonzoh was not erroneously cited as he personally negotiated with him adding that when the execution commenced, he (Chingonzoh) sent emissaries in the form of his legal practitioners to negotiate a payment plan.
“At the request of the applicant, a meeting was set for 16 January 2018, an event which led to the Messenger of Court being requested shelve execution. The meeting took place as scheduled and the execution, in good faith, was stayed.
“It is therefore, highly dishonest by a litigant to then turn around and purport to protest innocence in the transactions when he has squandered every opportunity that came his way to say so if at all he was not personally liable. His application is an abuse of process and must be viewed as such by way of dismissal with a punitive order for costs on the higher scale,” further argued Prophet Chiza.
Following Prophet Chiza’s arguments, for Chingonzoh the title of a popular novel by a Nigerian writer Dan Fulani “God’s Case: No Appeal” was at play when the presiding magistrate Tinashe Tashaya dismissed his application for a rescission of default judgment with costs on ordinary scale.