One thing you gotta love about East Texas is that we are a community that's ready to give help to those in need when called upon. But of course, there are those few scumbags who see our kindness as a weakness to take advantage of us and use our giving to enrich themselves. Its nice to know that every once and a while when one of these folks get caught, justice belongs to the people.

A South African man has been convicted and sentenced for scamming a Tyler-area church out of thousands of dollars

Financial scam

According to KETK, the Smith County District Attorney’s Office shared details about 52-year-old Livingstone Zitha of South Africa, who claimed to be the pastor of a 5,000 member church in Johannesburg and ran a large orphanage under the guise of an active non-profit called Livingstone Zitha Ministries.

Officials say his promotional materials said a donation of $250 would allow his ministry to feed a child for a year.

Smith County Jail
Smith County Jail

Church members told officials they were suspicious of Zitha after he stayed with the church for two months and was not giving precise details about the ministry. During his trial, Prosecutors called two Secret Service agents to the stand who testified that the ministry was fraudulent. Another pastor from South Africa also testified he had never heard of Zitha, his church, or his orphanage.

Zitha Was Living Off The Donations Instead.

Pile of Money
Credit: ThinkStock

The District Attorney’s Office said that Zitha’s bank records showed that he primarily spent the ‘love offerings’ on fast food, coffee, car washes, and other personal expenses. Zitha was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison this week and the D.A. is urging folks to be cautious (or how about you don't donate a damn thing) when donating money to anything related to Zitha’s active non-profit organization.

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