Makandiwa ‘Miracle money’
backfires

A 38-year-old man bought airtime worth more
than $1 000 since 2013 after Standard
Chartered Bank erroneously linked his mobile
number to a client’s account.
Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa at the launch of
his brand
James Saunyama, who believed the funds to be
“miracle money”, pleaded guilty to theft charges
when he appeared before Harare magistrate, Mr
Arnold Maburo.
He was sentenced to six months in prison.
However, Mr Maburo suspended three months for
five years on condition of good behaviour.
The remaining three months were suspended on
condition that he restitutes $1 075, 82 on or
before November 21 this year.
In mitigation, Saunyama said he was attending
a church service at United Family International
Church led by Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa in
2013 when they asked for his phone number.
“I gave them my number and they asked me to
check my balance,” said Saunyama.
“I saw that my mobile number had an enormous
amount of money and I believed it was miracle
money. Since then, I used the money to top up
my airtime and those of my friends and
relatives.”
The complainant was Standard Chartered Bank
represented by its fraud manager, Mr Kudzai
Mujaji.
Prosecuting, Ms Yeukai Musengi told the court
that between January and October 2013 the
bank’s Msasa branch in Harare made a mobile
bank registration error.
The accountant linked Saunyama’s mobile
number to Ranganai Muguti’s bank account,
giving him access to banking services offered on
the bank’s mobile banking platform.
Muguti’s password was sent to Saunyama’s
mobile phone and he changed it to his desired
password fully aware that the bank account was
not his.
From October 18, 2013 to May 29 this year
Saunyama topped various amounts of airtime
into his mobile number.
The offence came to light when Muguti visited
the bank and discovered that someone else’s
mobile number was linked to his account.
He then realised that money was being
withdrawn in airtime purchases from his
account.
The bank reported the matter to police leading
to Saunyama’s arrest