Spirit Embassy Church leader Prophet Uebert Angel has slapped South African media company SuperSport with a US$1,5 million lawsuit over an article published on the firm's website predicting Liverpool Football Club as this year's winner of the English Premiership League title.
Prophet Angel, through his lawyers Mr Wilson Manase, Mr Wellington Pasipanodya and Mr Tinashe Tanyanyiwa of Manase and Manase Legal Practitioners, filed the lawsuit at the High Court yesterday.
He denies ever making such a prophecy and that if Liverpool fails to win the title, his followers will lose confidence in him.
In the article published on www.supersort.com end of December last year headlined "Zimbabwean prophet predicts Liverpool to win title", Prophet Angel was quoted as saying: "Liverpool, I am with you this year and God has shown me he is returning you to your glory days."
According to the prophet's declaration, the words were strange to him and defamatory.
"The said words, in the context of the article, are wrongful and defamatory to the plaintiff in that the plaintiff never uttered such a prophecy and he considers such an allegation defamatory in nature and that when it does not come true, the plaintiff's reputation as a spiritual leader and prophet of the Christian God will suffer greatly.
"These reported words are completely fallacious and unbeknown to the plaintiff and will defame him when the alleged prediction does not come to pass," read part of the plaintiff's declaration.
Prophet Angel's standing in society as a religious leader, according to the court papers, derives its foundations on the visions he receives from God and attributing to him prophecies he did not make has an effect of demeaning him.
It is argued that Prophet Angel might lose his followers as a result of the "false" story.
"Further, the article was published without any care of investigating the truth and risks alienating the plaintiff from his followers and reducing his eminence as a spiritual leader and prophet of God," the declaration reads.
Prophet Angel tried to justify the US$1,5 million suit arguing that he was a highly respected church leader who had a huge following.
"The plaintiff claims the sum of US$1,500,000 considering his character and stature as a prophet with great following and an individual who is respected the world over by religious, social and political leaders.
"The plaintiff is entitled to compensation because once the defamatory statement has been published, it is very difficult to rehabilitate completely a reputation even if it is proved in court that the statement was misguided . . ."
Prophet Angel, in the summons, cited SuperSport and the owners - MIH Group - as defendants. The summons were served on SuperSport's agent in Zimbabwe, Skynet (Pvt) Ltd, which trades as Multichoice Zimbabwe. Although the defendants are foreign entities, Prophet Angel's lawyers argue that the High Court has jurisdiction to preside over the case.
"This Honourable Court has jurisdiction to entertain this matter because the DStv subscriptions paid by thousands of Zimbabweans to the defendants through their agent Multichoice Zimbabwe, are capable of being attached to confirm jurisdiction in terms of Section 15 of the High Court Act," Prophet Angel argues.