JOHANNESBURG – He has private audiences with current and former heads of States including Nelson Mandela just before his recent discharge from hospital and he prophesied the deaths of Michael Jackson and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
He’s Prophet Uebert Angel (34), a British-Zimbabwean preacher whose church, Spirit Embassy, attracts more than 10 000 worshippers every Sunday at the Graniteside area in Harare.
The congregation on any given Sunday is a mix of politicians, top executives and ordinary people who are desperate for financial gain, healing of a variety of diseases, and many more miracles that Prophet Angel is reputed to be able to deliver.
At least a thousand are international visitors, which prompted Zimbabwe Tourism minister Walter Mzembi to say, “He brings more tourists to this country every week than Victoria Falls attracts in a month.”
When Drum arrived to interview him at his offices in Harare’s industrial area, the parking lot was full of luxury vehicles of all sorts including a black Bentley convertible, three Range Rover SUVs, a black Dodge truck, a red Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster and a white 2013 Range Rover Autobiography Sport.
Inside we meet Prophet Angel’s wife of 13 years, Beverly (32), who has just returned from a trip to Norway. Chic and elegant, she’s a fashion designer who owns an exclusive boutique in the plush Borrowdale suburb of Harare and a few more in England.
She has also emerged from her husband’s shadow to become a prophetess in her own right.
Interviews with Angel, a father of four boys, are rare. When he does grant them, his answers are curt and some have accused him of being somewhat arrogant.
He even suggests visiting Mandela was nothing out of the ordinary, having met him twice once at Madiba’s home in Qunu last year and recently when the former president was in Pretoria Mediclinit Hospital.
“I have met many important people including leaders of nations, billionaires and the poorest of the poor.”
Prophet Angel admits that his “ miracle money” exploits, in which members of his flock apparently miraculously receive money purses, pockets and bank accounts sometimes amounting to millions at a time — is what grabs most of the headlines.
More than any other of his wide-ranging claims, the promise of “miracle money” is what has made him such a hit and probably accounts for the large attendance at his church on Sundays.
“Jesus preached about money more than hell and heaven combined,” he says, putting “miracle money” in a biblical context.
Prophet Angel believes his ministry is often misunderstood. “Some call us prosperity gospel preachers. There is nothing called prosperity gospel, there are only believers who have understood the gospel and they’re prospering because of it,” he says.
“Jesus said he came to preach good news to the poor, and what else could be better news to the poor than that they don’t need to be poor any more?” asks the prophet.
Being poor is evidently the least of Prophet Angel’s problems — he reveals he owns a farm in the United Kingdom and a range of profitable companies globally.
He admits the prophecies and miracles he performs attract as much interest as his lavish lifestyle and love of the finer things in life.
Asked if he ever feels guilty about driving a Bentley through Harare’s sea of poverty?
“Poverty is relative, in as much as riches are relative,” he says. “Your two legs may be prosperity to someone with no legs and your five dollars might be prosperity to someone with nothing.”
He insists all his cars were gifts from friends and wealthy members of his church.
He claims he doesn’t draw a salary from the church’s income and says he has invited the media to inspect his financial records.
For all his flash and flamboyance. Angel claims he’s also a philanthropist. He says he gives away a car almost every week to a lucky member of his congregation. To date the most expensive car which was given away was a Range Rover Sport in May this year.
In June last year, Prophet Angel spent time with former president Nelson Mandela at his home in Qunu.
Sources say the prophet’s wife Beverly is a close friend of the Mandela family.
Prophet Angel also claims to have a soup kitchen in the poor neighbourhood of Highfield in Harare where thousands of widows and orphans are fed every day.
He also says he pays the school fees for those who can’t afford to do so and builds houses for the homeless.
Asked how he managed to meet Nelson Mandela during one of his visits to Mzansi when so many world leaders and Hollywood A-listers wait for years for a brief moment with the apartheid struggle icon, Prophet Angel says, “To God, everyone is a soul, and by the grace of God, 1 have met many, including leaders of nations, billionaires and the poorest of the poor.
“To say what I meet them for or why they meet me would mean I should tell you why everyone meets me and I just don’t have the time to do that and I never will.
“Besides, Mandela is an international icon and in the words of Barack Obama ‘an inspiration to the world’, of which I am a citizen.”
Drum attended one of his Sunday services the day after the interview and a South African woman gave testimony that she had been healed of HIV.
When we talk to him about this after the service he says he has cured cancer sufferers and even resurrected 29 people from the dead.
There seems to be no end to Prophet Angel’s powers, and to put him to the test we watch closely his prophesy of the World Cup qualifier match to be played between Sweden and Ireland in a few days’ time.