Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (Zaoga) Chitungwiza province has lost thousands of dollars through a well-orchestrated scam in which the general secretary was reportedly not remitting tithes and contributions from surrounding congregations to head office.
As a result the general secretary, Margaret Mapfuku, was this week slapped with a 48-month-jail term after being convicted of stealing $27 628, R16 847, Malawi K20 and £7 , all of which have not been recovered.
Mapfuku pleaded not guilty to the charge of fraud when she appeared before Harare magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini but was convicted after a full trial. Jarabini sentenced Mapfuku to 48 months in prison but suspended portions of the sentence on various conditions.
Twelve months of the total sentence were suspended on condition of good behaviour while the other 18 months were suspended on condition Mapfuku pays restitution of the full amount of money she stole to Zaoga Chitungwiza province on or before March 31 this year.
She will however still go to jail for an effective 18 months.
Mapfuku was arrested following an audit that was carried out by the church’s accounts department which discovered that she did not remit cash collected to the church headquarters for the period extending from April 2009 to May 2010.
The audit also discovered Mapfuku had procured a remittance book which she would use to receipt funds collected by the church from other districts within the province.
It also emerged during the audit that Mapfuku would misrepresent to the finance committee through false signatures that she would have remitted the funds to headquarters by forging signatures of the HQ tellers and using the HQ stamp to authenticate the purported deposits.
The same audit also discovered Mapfuku forged other signatures of the finance committee members from Chitungwiza province purporting to have been authorised to remit the funds to Zaoga HQ, which funds she converted to her own use.