HomeNews‘Rapist’ pastor trial opens:‘Victim’ tells sordid rape tale

‘Rapist’ pastor trial opens:‘Victim’ tells sordid rape tale

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THE trial of the leader of the RMG Independent End Time Message Church, Robert Martin Gumbura, who is facing nine rape charges, opened at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday with the 57–year–old pastor telling the court that he indeed had sexual intercourse with the complainants but that it was by agreement.

BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

Six women have made reports of rape against the polygamist church leader.

The pastor, who was found with sex-enhancement drugs, is also facing another charge of possession of pornographic material.

Gumbura’s trial is being presided over by regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.

The church leader, who has 11 wives and is being represented in court by lawyer Rekai Maphosa, told the court that he was in love with the women and had made arrangements to marry them.

He said his plans to marry the women were, however, derailed by some of the women’s relatives who did not want them to be part of his polygamous marriage.
Gumbura’s lawyer admitted that her client used sex-enhancement drugs because he was duty–bound to sexually satisfy all his wives.

“The accused is married to 11 wives. Even David and Solomon in the Bible had many wives,” Maphosa said. “He has a duty to sexually satisfy his wives so he uses sex-enhancement drugs. There is nothing wrong if he is able to satisfy them sexually, financially and socially.”

Gumbura said the rape allegations against him were fabricated by his rival, Spoken Word Ministries’ leader Godwin Chitsinde, in whose church the complainants were now worshipping.

He said he had paid for the education of some of the women and assisted them in various other ways but he “is now being punished for being a Good Samaritan in real terms” because there was bad blood between him and Chitsinde after he broke away from the latter’s church in 1980.

He told the court that he split with Chitsinde because the latter did not agree to the doctrine of polygamy which Gumbura wanted to pursue because it was biblical.

Gumbura said the two pornographic DVDs retrieved from his house — titled Black Street Hookers and Dread wekuMufombi —did not belong to him, but had been surrendered by church members after their confession and were set to be destroyed.

The first witness, who was allegedly sexually abused on several occasions between 2005 and 2006, gave a chilling account of how the abuse was systematically perpetrated on her. She said Gumbura used Biblical scriptures, coercion, threats and persuasion as he raped her.

Led by prosecutor Jonathan Murombedzi, the then 23-year-old woman said her father, who was a co-pastor with Gumbura, “was handed over to the devil in 1987” and his life has been in disarray since then. She said according to the church doctrine a member of the church was regarded as a sheep while Gumbura was the shepherd whom they had to consult on everything in their lives.

She said before she enrolled at the Catholic University, Gumbura instructed her to enter into courtship with someone else, but she refused arguing that she was still young and wanted to pursue her education. She said Gumbura then ordered her to make a choice between getting into courtship and going to university or remaining single and abandon university.

She said she chose courtship and education and started dating a young man chosen by Gumbura in 2002. She was then allowed to go to university. In the same year, Gumbura summoned her to his office where he asked her to kiss him. She refused and in January 2004, as she was making wedding arrangements with her boyfriend, Gumbura made sexual advances on her.

“He said he wanted to ‘taste’ me first. He said according to the church doctrine, no girl could wed before having sexual intercourse with him. He gave me a list of church women he had sex with before they got married,” she said adding that she refused.

After meeting another man, she said she then decided to abandon everything and leave the country as a way to escape the church, its leader and its doctrine. They made plans to go to South Africa.

She said when Gumbura heard about the plans, he came to pick her with one of his wives, Chipo Mhlanga, and they took her to their house in Greendale. Gumbura allegedly interrogated her on why she was having sexual intercourse with her new boyfriend, who was a “heathen”. He allegedly said it was improper to give the pastor’s “goods” to heathens.

Gumbura then insisted that she should prove to him that she was not pregnant and she removed a bloodied sanitary pad that she was wearing and showed him. He then allegedly read from Exodus 21, which speaks about the relationship between a master and his servants, but she asked him why he was referring to her as a servant when both of them were bought by the blood of Christ through salvation.

“He accused me of having evil spirits of feminism from the Catholic University,” she said. “He then read a portion from I Corinthians which says a shepherd has a right to drink the milk from his sheep and to shear its wool. He said if he had sowed to my spirit, he had a right to harvest from my flesh. I then told him that ‘Don’t hold the Bible over my head like a gun’.”

Asked why she kept going to his house after work, the complainant said Gumbura had assured her guardians that she was receiving counselling.

On January 22, she said, Gumbura came into her bedroom and read a passage from Romans and told her how a shepherd could break the leg of a straying sheep so that it stayed close to him while he nursed it back to health. He then raped her, she said.

“After raping me, he said I should not be troubled because he was just a pastor doing his job,” she said. “He said if I ran away, he would commit me into the hands of the devil.”

She said when she discovered that she was pregnant and told Gumbura, he denied responsibility before giving her money and driving her to one Dr Musuka’s surgery in Harare for an abortion. She said the doctor inserted an object into her womb, before giving her some pills and assuring her that the pregnancy would terminate in two weeks.

The trial continues today.

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