The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG), led by self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri, was dealt a legal blow this week when the Johannesburg High Court dismissed its urgent application to restore electricity and nullify certain invoices issued by its landlords for its branch at the Southdale shopping centre.
The ECG had approached the court on Monday citing in its affidavit deposed by senior pastor Samuel Dulungana that Johannesburg-based property company Periscopic had dubiously invoiced it R148 986 for utilities and allocated the church a different hall from the one on the lease agreement.
“The dispute ensued for the first time when the applicant [ECG] received the invoice which reflected the incorrect square meter and full month charges for assessment rate as opposed for half month charges,” read Dulungana’s founding affidavit.
He added that the church’s complaint to building management fell on deaf ears.
“On June 21 2021, the applicant questioned the charges for electricity and water of which they were informed prior occupying the premises that there were no electricity and water meter measuring devices installed … applicant sent an email to the managing agent requesting utility slips which confirm the applicant’s consumption of electricity and water … No feedback was furnished by the first respondent [Periscopic] in relation to the charges of electricity and water consumption.”
Dulungana said the church had paid R83 000 on November 29 despite the alleged breaches. “The applicant is continuously being subjected to the leaking roof since moving into the premises in May this year in two places and the managing agent refuses to effect repairs due to outstanding amounts.”
Periscopic centre manager Erna Vermaak refused to comment on whether Bushiri’s fugitive status had affected the company’s business relations with the church.
“We can’t comment on any of your questions, but can confirm that the church’s application was subsequently heard by a high court judge who dismissed their it with a cost order against them,” she said.
Bushiri and his wife Mary fled South Africa to their native Malawi when he was granted bail after being arrested on charges of theft, fraud and money laundering.