Harare Magistrate Hoseah Mujaya on Friday further postponed judgment in the case of RGM End Time Message church leader Robert Martin Gumbura, who is facing multiple rape charges, saying he still needed time to prepare the judgment.
Gumbura made a brief appearance in a packed courtroom with his 11 wives, relatives and church members also in attendance when the magistrate said he would deliver his verdict next Friday, 31 January.
Attorney John Ndomene, who was standing in for Gumbura’s lawyer, Rekai Maphosa, said he wanted to seek a postponement of the matter as Maphosa was engaged at the High Court with another case.
Gumbura is accused of raping several women from his church, some of them married. One the 12 witnesses in the matter told the court he had bragged that he owned all the women in the church.
The witness, Innocent Nehowa, who is a former church member, told the court Gumbura claimed the church had given him authority to have sex with any female congregant of his choice regardless of the marital status and could loan them to their husbands but still retain certain rights.
Harare West lawmaker Jessie Majome said she felt compelled to attend Friday’s court session for several reasons, among them that the scene of the alleged crime, Marlborough, is in her constituency.
She says she is worried there have been many awful cases of gender based violence in her area.
Majome said she trying to understand such cases so that she can use her position as a lawmaker to push for policy interventions.
The lawmaker, who has a pending motion on gender-based violence in the National Assembly, said Gumbura’s matter helps her prepare make her case in parliament.
She wants a legislated mandatory sentence for rape of not less than 30 years and appropriate sentences for other forms of gender-based violence.
Majome also wants the government to immediately equip all police stations with forensic investigation rape kits, among other interventions.
This week women’s activists celebrated when Harare magistrate Simon Kachambwa slapped serial rapist and armed robber, Thomas Brighton Chirembwe, with a 290-year jail term after he was found guilty of raping 13 women and robbing them of their monies and other valuables.