A TALE of conning church members, disappearing into thin air from a plush Harare hotel and making off with money from the sale of a vehicle is what former cricketer Dumisani Mankunzini has become known for at the Eagle Life Assembly Church led by Prophet Blessing Chiza.
The latest allegations against the former Tuskers cricketer come hot on the heels of video footage of Mankunzini being confronted and dragged to a police station by two unidentified women for conning them of an undisclosed amount of money.
For the first time Prophet Chiza has publicly spoken about how Mankunzini left members of his Eagle Life Assembly church counting their losses after they were allegedly conned of more than US$14 000.
So daring was Mankunzini that at one time he allegedly booked rooms at a Harare hotel, with Chiza’s church members, for three days and disappeared without paying.
The unassuming church members almost slept in police cells and were rescued by fellow church members based in Harare who settled the bill at the plush Harare hotel.
Chiza says he regrets the day the former cricketer joined Eagle Life Assembly and became a member of the youth ministry.
“I had no idea who Mankunzini was until I started hearing stories that there was a fraudster in the church who was conning members of their money and all this happened a few years ago when he was a part of Eagle Life Assembly.
“We are a very big church with thousands of members and I didn’t know him personally until the complaints started flooding my office that a youth ministry member was defrauding other church members of their money.
“The amounts varied from US$300 and upwards that he would take from church members under the pretext that they would be investors in a cricket academy that he was running. The total amount can easily add up to US$14 000 that he conned members of my church,” Prophet Chiza told B-Metro.
Five members of Eagle Life Assembly came close to spending the night in police cells after Mankunzini allegedly booked them into Rainbow Towers in Harare in a botched cricket deal that they had been roped into by the former cricketer.
“I got a phone call that five of my church members were about to be arrested for not paying for a three-day stay at Rainbow Towers after Mankunzini had disappeared without paying the bill. Other church members based in Harare had to pay the hotel bill.
“I was told that during the stay at the hotel, Mankunzini kept pretending to be on the phone with Heath Streak and Tatenda Taibu who would be part of that cricket deal, but it all later turned out to be nothing but lies,” narrated Chiza.
According to Chiza, the former cricketer skipped the country into South Africa after defrauding a woman of money from the sale of a vehicle.
“He told the woman that he could sell her car in no time and she lost her vehicle. Countless cases have been reported to the police by members of my church that he conned.
“He claims to be related to a Central Intelligence Officer and that is how he threatens people not to report cases to the police. We have advised the public not to deal with Mankunzini using the name of our church,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Mankunzini hit a brick wall as his mobile phone was unreachable.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube confirmed that they were investigating a case of fraud and theft involving Dumisani Mankunzini adding that he was held at Bulawayo Central Police Station to assist police with their investigations.
Stories of Mankunzini’s fraudulent activities are all over the internet and his modus operandi is strikingly similar: the victims invest in the former cricketer’s cricket vision, pay for his luxurious accommodation, road travel, flights and general upkeep. A Johannesburg-based Zimbabwean couple were scammed of over R500 000 after going the extra mile of bankrolling a costly Mankunzini-run youth cricket tournament in Bulawayo in 2018.
Now regarded as something of a villainous figure in Zimbabwean cricket, what further infuriates the growing list of those hoodwinked by him is Mankunzini’s arrogance and increasingly desperate attempt to portray himself as the victim. His utterances, in social media posts, blame his woes on the mischief of detractors, or “haters”, as he likes to call them.
News of Mankunzini’s acts have attracted the attention of the cricket world. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has since barred the former leg-spin bowler from getting their official approval to cover its competitions. The Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have also distanced themselves from the controversial ex-cricketer following reports of his underhand tactics to defraud people of their hard-earned cash.
His alleged victims included a guest house, lodge and hotel in Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively.