Born on November 6, 1983, Walter Magaya has hogged the limelight for the better part of the seven years that his ministry, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance, has been in existence.
By Garikai Mazara
There are varied accounts of Magaya’s rise to fame, the most common being that he was a money-changer on the streets of Harare, whilst other versions say he was a fruit vendor in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza.
But what he has not kept a secret is that his fortunes changed for the better after he came back from a trip to TB Joshua’s the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN).
This saw him founding the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministry in 2012.
From humble beginnings in Chitungwiza’s Unit L, the ministry was to quickly grow in numbers and influence, such that a move to more spacious grounds was inevitable. This saw him finding space for his church in Waterfalls, near the famous Zindoga shops.
Whilst his church was growing in influence, even spanning the country’s borders, he was soon to be embroiled in a spate of controversies, most of them of a sexual nature.
But the controversies were not limited to sex as the range of accusations against him ranged from false prophecy promises, housing stands scandals, tax evasion, physical abuse, intimidation, to murder.
Many have been left wondering why and how the man-of-cloth has managed to survive almost all these scandals, unscathed.
The first allegation to rock Magaya’s PHD Ministries was the death of one Chipo Chakanyuka, who mysteriously died in a Botswana prison, “after being found in possession of gold”. Many suspect that was planted gold.
Chipo was allegedly pregnant at the time of her death and she wanted to spill the beans as to who was responsible for her pregnancy. She never lived to make the revelations.
This was to be the first of a series of allegations of sexual impropriety on the part of the prophet, with similar allegations emerging two years later, in 2016, when Petronella Donhodzo alleged rape at the hands of the prophet.
However, the case was removed from the court roll as the complainant withdrew her plea. The State, as much as it tried to proceed with the case without the witness-in-chief, failed to. The case was to die a natural death.
Not exactly new to controversy, Magaya was to divide the court of public opinion in 2014 when he “converted” pole dancer, Beverley Sibanda, into his ministry. Bev, popular for raunchy dances, attended the church but the marriage with PHD did not last long, with insinuations that the break-up was rather acrimonious.
Bev has since threatened to bare all in a live Facebook feed on Sunday.
With his church services packing in thousands of believers and miracle-seekers, Magaya was to further divide public opinion when he invited dancehall artistes to perform at his gatherings.
What surprised most observers is that dancehall musicians are well known for uncouth lyrics, unkempt lifestyles and social behaviour that is mainly drug-inspired.
Whilst many took the fence-sitting position of “judging not”, many of his sympathisers were of the opinion that the prophet was walking the talk by bringing to church and converting the violence-prone, drug-inspired dancehall musicians.
Then came the cat-and-mouse fight with Blessing and Upenyu Mashangwa, the couple behind the Oceane range of perfumes. The couple claimed that the prophet made a false prophecy on them, that he foresaw them owning an airline. They reportedly seeded a sizeable chunk off their Oceane collection to fund the prophecy, which never came to pass.
As directors of Ciemah Investments, they later received an order from Prophet Magaya in September 2014 to supply 10 commuter omnibuses. Seven of the omnibuses were duly delivered between November 1 2014 and January 31 2015.
When the first delivery of omnibuses was done, Prophet Magaya paid US$30 000 as down payment. However, efforts to have the balance paid were fruitless, prompting the Mashangwas to enlist the services of debt collectors, a move which did not go down well with the prophet.
On March 15 2015, four officers, two male and two female in plain clothes, from the Homicide Section visited the Mashangwa homestead in Borrowdale Brooke. They proceeded to assault four maids and a gardener there. The Mashangwas were not at home at that time.
The assault case as well as the request to have their balance settled for the kombis remain unsolved matters to this day.
Though married to Tendai Magaya, nee Katsiga, and the union blessed with two children, Yadah Makanaka and Walter Junior, Magaya has not been far from sex scandals.
After weathering the Chakanyuka and Donhodzo storms, he was to be back in the news two weeks ago, with the Maenzanise family accusing him of having had an improper sexual liaison with their then 17-year-old daughter, Chenai.
That liaison is said to have resulted in a child. In a twist of events, hardly 48 hours after the Maenzanise accusations, Chenai was to post on social media, denying that she was ever raped. And for effect, she added that she is happily married.
But in the three-hour long recent interview that Sarah Maruta had with The Sunday Mail on July 4, the latest accuser of sexual impropriety against Magaya, she said it could be possible that the husband that Chenai Maenzanise is proudly displaying on social media could have been someone on Magaya’s payroll – sent to “marry” her to stave off any allegations that might come the prophet’s ways.
She confessed that she had faced a similar situation, asked to marry someone from within the church, whom she had not fallen in love with.
Sarah came out with the allegations of an improper sexual relationship against the prophet, together with Charity Dlodlo, in the aftermath of the Maenzanise accusations.
But away from allegations of a sexual nature, Magaya was embroiled in a land scandal when his construction company, Planet Africa, was alleged to have acquired 300 hectares in an improper manner. The issue sucked in the then Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere.
Back in November 2014, the prophet had held a crusade in Kwekwe, which resulted in the death of 11 people after a stampede at Mbizo Stadium.
But he was to raise the ire of his critics in 2017 when he reportedly packed his backpack for Israel, the spiritual home of Christianity, after asking his congregants to write their problems on pieces of paper, pieces which he packed into the backpack. He is said to have prayed for the problems in Israel.
A jack of all trades, Magaya has been heavily involved with football matters, first acquiring the franchise to Gunners, which he re-named Yadah Football Club. In addition, he has been sponsoring the Warriors, the national football team.
Part of the sponsorship has seen the team camping at his sprawling Waterfalls hotel, which was recently gutted by a fire.
An entrepreneur as well, Magaya has invested millions in a marble factory, forming part of the several income-generating projects that the prophet has embarked in. His investment acumen has also seen him trying his hand in farming, though he was roundly criticised for selling maize cobs from his farm to his congregants, then at a princely price of US$10 per cob, because “the cobs were anointed”.
Given all these investment avenues, it was little wonder that the taxman went knocking on the PHD doors, alleging that the churchman was not up-to-date with his taxes.
There has been suggestions that Magaya thrives on controversy, that he intentionally goes out of his way to look for something to throw himself into the limelight. This school of thought might have received some bit of credence when in October 2018 he announced that he, through his Aretha Medical, had discovered a cure for HIV and cancer.
Naturally, the world of medicine went berserk and he was to be charged with contravening a host of medicine control laws in the country. He got away with a fine, a sentence most of his detractors thought was too lenient, especially in light of the damage that was likely to be caused by the announcement of the HIV cure.
But how has the man-of-cloth survived such a chequered, controversy-ridden lifestyle?
In October 2016, he donated reflectors, emblazoned with his church’s name, to the Zimbabwe Republic Police, a move that left many wondering if he was not compromising the police.
But if the donations were meant to oil the police’s hands, it might have been a year late, as the police were already compromised. In 2015, after some misunderstanding with the Mashangwas, the police, in spite of receiving an official complaint, decided to remain mum on the issue.
The same scenario played out in the Chakanyuka “suicide”, with police reportedly having a lackadaisical attitude towards the investigations.
The several sexual allegations have left Magaya losing out in the moral court but it still remains to be seen whether he will stand in a criminal court on these allegations as most of his accusers either make a somersault after being paid off or fear to lay charges against him altogether.