Gumbura's prison break ruling deferred

A HARARE magistrate yesterday postponed ruling on the case of RGM Independent Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura who faces charges of attempting to breakout of prison in 2015.

Gumbura is jointly charged with Blessing Chiduke, Luckmore Matambanadzo, Luck Mhungu, Taurai Dodzo, Thomas Chacha, Thulani Chizema, Jacob Sibanda, and Elijah Vhumbunu.

Besides charges of attempting to escape from lawful custody, the rapist and his accomplices are also accused of incitement and conspiracy in aggravating circumstances.

Mapfumo deferred his ruling to April 10 saying he needs more time to look at the defence case which filed its application late.
The jailed cleric and his alleged accomplices had applied for discharge at the close of the State’s case, which they described as “mere hot air.”

Through their lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, the accused submitted that by the close of its case, the State had not addressed the core elements of its allegations.

“The evidence adduced by the State is so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable court might safely act on it. No witness was able to link any of the accused persons to any of the specific offences they are facing,” Madhuku said.

“At most, the evidence pointed to a prisoner, not amongst the accused, who was shot dead after being found on top of the roof,” Madhuku added, saying that his clients should not have been tried on the evidence led by the State.

Madhuku also argued that the prosecution failed to prove that his clients conspired and communicated any inciting messages to other fellow inmates.
“Each prison official who testified said, in essence, they never heard any of the accused discussing or communicating any messages on the commission of an offence. Their testimony had nothing to do with what each accused did, in respect of the specific offences they are facing,” he said.

The State alleges that Gumbura told inmates to protest for better quality food. The message was allegedly passed on to inmates in C and D halls.

The inmates allegedly sang throughout the night, banging on cell iron bars. The State alleges that on March 13, Chiduke, Matambanadzo, Mhungu, Dodzo, Chacha and Chizema advised inmates in C Hall to reject prison food.

Sibanda and three other inmates, who are now deceased, allegedly incited inmates in D Hall to also protest. Around 9am, porridge was served but inmates refused to eat it because it had no sugar.

They allegedly demanded to see the prison chief superintendent.

Towards lunch time, Chiduke, Matambanadzo, Mhungu, Dodzo, Chacha and Chizema allegedly demanded to see the officer-in-charge, who sent his subordinate, one Dumbura, who was told by the prisoners that they could not eat the food before pushing out containers brought with lunch.

 The now-deceased Titus Mandikoza allegedly climbed on top of the roof and started shouting that prisoners were not supposed to eat the food.

At that moment, the State alleges that Vhumbunu and Sibanda poured the food on a prison officer and violence erupted.

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