BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Jailed cleric Robert Martin Gumbura has filed an application seeking referral to the Constitutional Court, arguing that his rights were being violated by forcing him to his defence at the magistrate’s court before his High Court appeal is finalised.
Gumbura is facing charges of attempting to break out of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, where he is serving a 40-year jail term for the rape of several female congregants.
Gumbura’s application was dismissed together with his alleged six accomplices, namely Blessing Chiduke (25), Luckmore Matambanadzo (39), Lucky Mhungu (38), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37) and Elijah Vhumbunu (38), while the other accused Thulani Chizema (32) and Jacob Sibanda (28) had their application granted after the State failed to prove a prima facie case against them.
Through their lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, the seven accused had submitted that the magistrate erred in allowing the matter to be put to defence before the High Court finalised their application.
But magistrate Francis Mapfumo ruled that there was no justification to stop the proceedings at the lower courts since there is no order from the High Court to stop proceedings.
Madhuku said he would file the application for referral to the ConCourt today, saying the decision by the courts to refuse a judgment review was violating his client’s rights to fair trial.
The accused persons are facing charges of attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances or alternatively and conspiracy in aggravating circumstances for malicious damage to property.
Vumbunu is, however, out of custody after completing his 10-year jail sentence for robbery.
The matter was postponed to Monday next week for defence case.