Ray of hope for rapist Gumbura

HARARE - Jailed Independent End Time Message founder Robert Martin Gumbura could win a bid to dismiss one of his charges after the State conceded that the clergyman was convicted in error on one of the counts.

This emerged during Gumbura’s appeal hearing, which was before High Court judges Charles Hungwe and Edith Mushore.

Gumbura is currently serving an effective 40-year prison term after Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya found him guilty on four counts of raping female congregants and another count of contravening the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act in March 2014.

Gumbura’s lawyer Sylvester Hashiti, who was instructed by Tapson Dzvetero, told the court that the State had made a concession in relation to one of the counts.

“On the last paragraph of the State’s response, there is a concession that the conviction as relates to count number seven is unsafe. The appeal to that portion has to succeed,” Hashiti said referring to the rape counts.

He further blew holes into the other three counts, which he argued were not reported timeously, an aspect which he said must work in Gumbura’s favour.

However, judges kept on asking him to explain the issue pertaining to claims that the victims had been indoctrinated and feared Gumbura.

Hashiti said that the evidence pertaining to the case showed that the victims were not afraid of anything or claims that they would be placed in the hands of Satan if ever they defied Gumbura’s orders.

He said they had ample time and freedom to report the case to the police or whoever they freely sought to consult.

The clergyman further argued in his appeal that the magistrate misdirected himself, when he found him guilty and sentenced him to 40 years.

He said that the witnesses were not credible.

“It is clear that the magistrate’s finding that the complainants were credible is plainly wrong. The honourable magistrate simply took lock, stock and barrel the narrative of the complainants, discarding the explanation given by the appellant and the probabilities,” he argued.

He accused the magistrate of failing to critically examine the allegations raised by the complainants.

“In this regard, the magistrate was regrettably swayed by non-legal considerations and passed a moral judgment. Most fundamentally, the honourable court was obligated to critically examine each allegation of sex in the surrounding circumstances.

“The judgment of the Magistrates’ Court cannot withstand scrutiny on appeal,” he said.

However, prosecutor Editor Mavuto is seeking the dismissal of the appeal, arguing the magistrate did not make any errors in his ruling. He said he would be willing to reconsider his decision on only one of the counts.

Gumbura’s case was last heard last year.

High Court judge Joseph Musakwa dismissed the application after ruling that there were no prospects of success on appeal.

Gumbura’s latest appeal hearing will continue today, when Hashiti will finalise his submissions and Mavuto responds before the court makes a ruling.

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