Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura on Wednesday had his jail sentence on four counts of rape reduced, but his legal team claims it was not enough and is now seeking to approach the Supreme Court on appeal.
Gumbura (63) was jailed effective 40 years following his conviction on four counts of rape and one count of illegally possessing pornographic material in 2014, but argued on appeal that the imprisonment term was patently disproportionate.
The High Court, sitting as an Appeals Court, agreed to reduce the sentence by half, finding that the trial court decision was a bit outrageous and unjust.
The defence team comprising Professor Lovemore Madhuku and Advocate Sylvester Hashiti had moved the court to reduce the jail term to 10 years on each count of rape and the counts to run concurrently, so that Gumbura would serve 10 years, which he has already served in terms of the law.
But Justice Felistus Chatukuta sitting with Justice Pisirayi Kwenda after hearing submissions from both the defence and prosecution counsel reduced the sentence to 25 years, of which five years were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
This now leaves Gumbura with a 20-year jail term, with half of that sentence already served taking into account one-third remission.
The reduction of the sentence gives Gumbura something to smile about after his first freedom bid hit a brick wall three years ago when the same court threw out his appeal.
Justice Charles Hungwe, then High Court judge and Justice Edith Mushore, sitting as an Appeals Court, confirmed Gumbura’s conviction, saying the church leader was indeed a danger to society and deserved to be listed in the Register of Sex Offenders — if there was any — as a way of protecting children and women from abuse.
The judgment that was written by Justice Mushore, with the concurrence of Justice Hungwe read: “As far as I concern myself, appellant is a personification of what Professor Geoff Feltoe refers to as ‘‘the Evil of Abuse’’ (See Prof Feltoe’s article title: Strengthening Our Law on Child Sexual Abuse) in which he makes calls for other protective measures such as a register of sex offenders.”
She said Gumbura was a depraved individual who degraded and objectified his victims adding that, “He is clearly the stuff that nightmares are made of. In my view, the court a quo (lower court) correctly convicted appellant . . . The appeal against conviction on all counts is dismissed.”
Gumbura had sought the High Court to set aside the lower court’s decision and acquit him of the charges.
He faced nine counts of raping six women and one of possessing pornographic material. The trial magistrate found him guilty of four counts of rape and one of illegally possessing pornographic material.
For rape, Gumbura was sentenced to 50 years in prison before 10 years were conditionally set aside, leaving him to serve 40 years effectively.
He was also jailed four months for breaching the Censorship and Entertainment Act. The sentence would run concurrently with the 40-year jail term.
It was the court’s finding that Gumbura regularly used sex enhancement drugs and that he owned pornographic material which contained scenes of group sex.
Gumbura prevailed over his victims by using death threats.