Better Drive Car Rental in Bulawayo is in a dispute with the Council for Churches in Africa (CCA) which has failed to pay a debt accrued after hiring cars for a church conference.
The Council of Churches owes the car rental US$1 178.40.
Administrator of Better Drive Car Rental, Primrose Magwanyangwanya, told CITE that officials of the CCA approached them on October 25. 2023 seeking to hire cars for their church conference, which was taking place that week.
“Prophetess Faith Sibanda accompanied by her accountant and another staff member wanted Toyota Fortuners but these vehicles were out on another hire,” said Magwanyangwanya.
“We offered them a Toyota Hilux Legend 45 and a Ford Ranger. The prophetess wanted to hire the cars for four days and paid for two days including a deposit which was not enough. But we gave them the two cars since they are Christians.”
Magwanyangwanya said the two parties signed a contract and Prophetess Sibanda promised to bring the remaining balance for the two days the following day.
“They took the cars on a Wednesday and were meant to bring them back on Sunday. Prophetess Sibanda did not bring the payment the following day and we decided to let the church continue with their conference. But on that particular Sunday, Prophetess Sibanda did not communicate that they were no longer bringing the cars,” said the administrator.
“Whenever we called their office we were told the prophetess and their bishop were attending the conference and they would get back to us. We waited but they never showed up or communicated.”
Magwanyangwanya said according to their work policy, if a client fails to communicate that they have been held up and the day of returning a vehicle lapses, it is considered a hire for the day.
“We had to go and fetch the cars by force, realising that since they had failed to pay for the other two days, they would give us problems. We communicated with their Bishop, Dr Rocky Moyo, who said, ‘Do you know who I am? I am a high profile person and everyone knows me.’ We told him he could be known by everyone but we didn’t know them, as they were our first time clients. As a result there was an exchange of insults with the Bishop,” said Magwanyangwanya.
“On Monday we went and took the Toyota Hilux Legend 45 which they had parked outside Rainbow Hotel. When we asked for the Ford Ranger they said they were unaware where it was and continued saying it was coming after 30 minutes and that was around 2:30pm. We waited until we collected the car around 8pm.”
Magwanyangwanya added that collecting their vehicles late attracted a fee as it was considered a hire because the clients had not communicated.
“We then discovered they took the Ford Ranger for panel beating without our knowledge,” said the car rental administrator.
Magwanyangwanya said when they asked the Bishop about it, he said he was not aware why it went for panel beating.
“We tried to follow up with the payment to no avail as they kept transferring us to different people until we had to send our own Bishop and a Brother who upon arrival found that they knew each other. The church acknowledged they were going to pay as their Bishop Dr Moyo was having challenges with an international bank card to process the payment,” narrated the administrator.
“The Bishop wrote an acknowledgement of debt, promising to pay on a Friday but it never came. Actually when our bishop approached them, he took a Letter of Demand from the court and the church pleaded that it was unnecessary, but they never followed through on their promise.”
Magwanyangwanya said she had to take the Letter of Demand to the church again.
“We waited for seven days for their response but they never responded. We applied for summons through the Small Claims Court and delivered it through the Messenger of Court. Soon after receiving the summons, Prophetess Sibanda sent a voice note to our CEO cursing us that our business will dry up and we won’t have customers,” she said.
Contacted for a comment, Prophetess Sibanda referred questions to another individual who she said was responsible for hiring the vehicles but the provided contact number she availed failed to go through.
This contact also did not respond to messages of inquiry sent on WhatsApp for two days.
CCA has been in the eye of a storm before; in August this year, the church with the Immanuel Theology Institute International, trained and certified local church leaders, but its founder, Edward van den Berg, was exposed in South Africa as a fraud because his institution was not government-accredited.