THE Prosecutor General (PG)’s Office yesterday pleaded with regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya to consider imposing life imprisonment or at least a 100-year jail term on RMG Independent End Time Message Church leader Robert Martin Gumbura.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON
Gumbura (57) was yesterday convicted on four counts of rape and one count of possessing pornographic material. He was acquitted on five other counts of rape allegedly perpetrated on adult female church members.
The polygamous church leader, who bragged during trial that his target was to sire 100 children with different wives, will be sentenced on Monday next week.
In a three-hour-long judgment, magistrate Mujaya castigated Gumbura’s behaviour towards his congregants saying he behaved like a bull at his Mayenga Farm in Chinhoyi.
“Accused person’s (Gumbura) behaviour as a pastor was detestable and deplorable. He behaved like one of his bulls at his Mayenga Farm in Chinhoyi,” Mujaya said. “Accused person said all women in his church were his wives and even bragged about it. That statement goes to show the character of the accused person towards his congregants and he even talked of loaning wives to other male congregants in his church.”
Mujaya said given all the evidence presented in court throughout the month-long trial, it was apparent Gumbura used his position to impose himself on the victims who looked up to him for protection. The magistrate said, however, in respect of the other adult complainants, there was evidence sexual intercourse between them and the man of the cloth was by consent.
Listen to people’s comments outside court below:
Addressing the court in aggravation, the PG’s representative Jonathan Murombedzi said Gumbura was a hypocrite who hid behind the Word of God in order to pounce on unsuspecting victims and as such, the sentence to be imposed should be harsh to send a clear message to society.
“In Section 65 (1) of the Code, the legislation indicates that any person found guilty of rape shall be liable to imprisonment for life or any shorter period. The State is, therefore, urging the court that if it is not swayed by its submissions to consider life imprisonment it should consider anything above 25 years per count for the accused person,” Murombedzi said.
Murombedzi further said Gumbura’s moral blameworthiness was extremely high, moreso, taking into account that he preyed on the flock that he was supposed to shepherd .
“I urge the court to consider a very harsh sentence since the accused took the women in his congregation as sex objects,” Murombedzi said. “The accused took advantage of the orphans who regarded him as their father for support and protection, but abused his position and used them as sex objects.”
The court was gripped with a sombre atmosphere as Murombedzi continued to chronologically outline how each complainant was subjected to sexual attacks by Gumbura who claimed to have the power to pronounce a curse on them and offer them to the devil.
“He created a doctrine which he interpreted to his own advantage. No laws would govern the affairs of his congregation or church and he would choose partners for his male congregants,” Murombedzi said.
“He ensured he was the ultimate authority in his church — was equal to God — and he behaved like one. The complainant’s psychological injury can be regarded as very serious for each of the individual victims for which the accused has been convicted of sexually abusing.”
The prosecutor argued that Gumbura should not get away with a lighter sentence taking into account the fact that all his victims were shown pornographic materials after which he would take sexual enhancement drugs and rape them without protection showing how determined he was to commit the offences.
Mujaya asked the State to comment on whether Gumbura’s threats and curses had any effect at all to which Murombedzi said: “Evidence was led in this court and a video footage was seen where the accused recounted to his congregation all those he cursed and committed to the hands of Satan and it was clear they actually suffered, depending on one’s beliefs, sometimes these curses really work.”
Gumbura’s lawyer Rekai Maposa, however, urged the court to be lenient arguing that her client was the sole breadwinner in his family of 11 wives and 30 children. Maposa again urged the court to treat the two counts of rape against one complainant as one for purposes of sentence and also urged the court to consider the option of a fine as regards the offence of possessing pornographic materials, but the State challenged Gumbura, saying the aggravating factors far outweighed the mitigating factors and as such, he must face a lengthy jail term.
Soon after the court announced its verdict, Gumbura’s dejected 11 wives and relatives dashed into their vehicles and drove off while members of the public and rival church members remained spellbound outside the court building pondering on the level of sentence likely to be imposed on the man of the cloth.
The courts have recently been harsh on rapists, with one of the latest convicted rapists Thomas Chirembwe, who was guilty of 21 counts of rape and robbery in which at least 13 women fell prey to his reign of terror, was thrown behind bars for an effective 230 years.