Gumbura verdict expected today

HARARE - Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya will today deliver the much-awaited judgment in the case of Independent End Time Message founder Robert Martin Gumbura, who is facing multiple rape charges.

The ruling has been postponed twice before, following Mujaya’s request to inspect the controversial pastor’s home on January 8. He also deferred the matter last Friday, saying the ruling was not yet ready.

The 57-year-old pastor is denying the rape allegations, claiming he is a victim of church politics.

The controversial pastor-cum-politician told the court that he is innocent and is being persecuted for being a “Good Samaritan.”

He said he advocates for polygamy — a doctrine contrary to that of his rivals. He currently has 11 wives and 30 children. He says his desire is to have 100 children.

His wives attended court sessions throughout the trial, which began on December 9 last year.

Prosecutor Jonathan Murombedzi closed the State’s case on December 20 last year, after leading evidence from 12 witnesses.

According to State papers, Gumbura allegedly raped a 28-year-old South Africa-based woman after she joined his church in 1998.

Prosecutors allege that one of the rape offences was committed in January 2005, when Gumbura picked up a parishioner from her workplace to his house for counselling.

He allegedly raped the woman, before repeating the act the following week.

The woman reportedly fell pregnant on two occasions but the pastor forced her to abort.

The State claims Gumbura also sexually abused his sixth wife’s sister, after luring her to buy ice cream after a church service in November 2005.

He is accused of raping other church women, including a 17-year-old girl.

He faces a separate charge of contravening the Censorship Act, after he was found in possession of several pornographic materials.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Esther Muremba dismissed Gumbura’s bail application on Monday, filed in respect of another rape charge reported by a South Africa-based woman.

Trial in the matter begins on March 31.

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