Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
The core-business of a church is to worship God and not to take advantage of the vulnerable, Harare regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya said today while sentencing RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura to an effective 40-year-jail term.
Gumbura (57) was last week Friday convicted of four counts of rape involving three women and of possessing pornographic material.
Of the four counts of rape, Mr Mujaya sentenced Gumbura to 50 years behind bars and four months for possession of pornographic material.
10 years of the term were set aside on condition of good behavior and the four months are going to run concurrently with the 40-year-jail term.
In aggravation prosecutor Mr Jonathan Murombedzi with the assistance of Mrs Kudzai Chigwedere had urged the court to impose a maximum of 25 years in prison per each count.
However Mr Mujaya said that he could not pass the sentence which was requested by the State because his maximum jurisdiction when sentencing was 20 years per count hence his hands were tied.
He said that even though the parliamentarians increased the penalty provision of rape, as regional magistrates they had not been given the green light to impose such sentences.
While reading out the sentence, Mr Mujaya said that the jail term was obviously going to affect Gumbura’s family and his flock.
He, however, castigated Gumbura’s behaviour saying that he was a wolf in sheep’s skin and abused the vulnerable church members. He said the fact that Gumbura had fallen from being a pastor to an ordinary prisoner, was another punishment.
“The court must always strive to find a punishment which will fit both the crime and the offender. In this case the accused was like a wolf in sheep’s cloth. The core-business of the church is to worship God not to sleep with girls and women and threatening them that misfortune would befall them.
“Pastors and deacons in this church must have been aware of the blasphemous teachings in their church and also the abuse of women but they chose to ignore what was happening.
“Teachings in church must be monitored internally and externally,” he said.
Mr Mujaya urged the State to ensure that women who were raped by Gumbura were counseled.
“The complainants are going to be stigmatised and traumatised. They are going to be psychologically affected.
“The State must take a step and see that the victims are counseled,” Mr Mujaya said.
Gumbura — who has 11 wives and 30 children — appeared stunned when his sentence was passed while the faces of his wives and relatives who were in the gallery turned pale.
Gumbura faced nine counts of raping six women and one of possessing pornographic material but was cleared of four counts relating to three other women for lack of evidence.
The State had recommended a lengthy jail term citing Gumbura’s moral blameworthiness.
“His moral blameworthy is very high in view of his position as a pastor. He preyed on the flock he was supposed to shepherd and took them as sex objects.
‘‘He was selfish. He took the female congregants as his personal property which he would loan to other men. He would dictate which man shall marry a female congregant but at a price that he would be the first to be intimate with her,” Mr Murombedzi said.
He said rape was now a prevalent crime that must attract a deterrent sentence. Gumbura’s lawyers, Ms Rekayi Maposa and Mr Emmanuel Samundombe, in mitigation implored the court to exercise its powers judiciously with a dimension of leniency.