The Supreme Court yesterday heard a bail appeal by jailed RMG End Time Message Church leader Robert Martin Gumbura, but reserved ruling to an indefinite date. Justice Bharat Patel, in his chambers, reserved the bail ruling after hearing arguments from both parties. Gumbura was jailed 40 years by a Harare magistrate on four counts of rape and illegally possessing pornographic material.
But he appealed against both conviction and sentence.
Pending determination of the main appeal, Gumbura unsuccessfully applied for bail before Justice Musakwa in May.
That prompted Gumbura to apply for leave to contest the denial of bail, an application that was granted by the High Court.
Dismissing Gumbura’s bail application in May, Justice Musakwa held that there were no prospects of success in the main appeal against conviction and sentence.
Justice Musakwa ruled that Gumbura’s chances of being acquitted on appeal were slim and that he should serve his sentence.
During the bail application Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, who represented Gumbura, argued that his client should be judged on the facts established in his case without the influence of the people’s moral opinions that are not supported by law.
Adv Magwaliba said fears by the State that his client’s release on bail might cause a public outcry were not a good ground to deny him bail when he had a good case at law.
Adv Magwaliba argued that media reports at times may not be accurate and are meant to sell, hence the agenda they set should not be considered as good grounds to deny Gumbura his right to liberty as enshrined in the Constitution.
Adv Magwaliba said even if it was to be accepted that what Gumbura did was morally wrong, it does not translate to the acts being legally wrong.
The court heard that Gumbura’s conviction was premised on a magistrate’s application of wrong principles of law that treated the complainants as women of unsound mind who cannot resist or consent to intimacy.
The lawyer argued that the trial magistrate relied on case authorities that only apply to complainants who have mental problems, when the women are normal human beings who fully appreciate what they do.
Responding to the application, law officer Mr Editor Mavuto, counter-argued that the court made a correct finding and that Gumbura was correctly convicted and senten- ced.