HARARE – Rapist preacher Robert Martin Gumbura could be out of jail as early as 2025 after his 40-year sentence was slashed in half.
Gumbura, 63, was convicted on four counts of rape in 2014 and one of possession of pornography.
A judge jailed him 50 years for rape and conditionally suspended 10 years, leaving the polygamous RMG Independent End Time Message preacher to serve an effective 40 years.
High Court judges Charles Hungwe and Edith Mushore, sitting as an appeal court, conceded that the 40-year sentence by magistrate Hosea Mujaya was harshly excessive. They replaced the sentence with 25 years, five of which were suspended for good behaviour.
“The appeal against sentence succeeded to the extent that the sentence was cut by half from an effective sentence of 40 years to 20 years,” Gumbura’s lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said.
“He has served about half of the 20 years, already so considering how the authorities count the years, he’s left with about five years and will be out of jail.”
The Prosecutor-General recently conceded that the 40-year effective jail term imposed on Gumbura was disproportionate.
Prosecutor Editor Mavuto made the concession before Justices Mushore and Hungwe.
“The magistrate ought to have ordered that part of the sentence should run concurrently, with the appellant serving in the region of between 20 and 30 years,” Mavuto said.
The prosecutor said the State had consented to the reduction of Gumbura’s prison time because the regional magistrate also erred in convicting him over a complainant who alleged she was raped twice.
“The State accepts that the complainant in count nine was indeed raped on the first encounter, but on the other encounter, she did not explain fully how she was raped. I’m of the view that her conduct on the second occasion is of someone who subsequently consented to sexual intercourse,” Mavuto said.
Mavuto however urged the court to uphold Gumbura’s conviction, saying Mujaya had properly done so after analysing all the evidence that was before him.
“From the evidence on record, there is overwhelming evidence that there was no consent at all, but the victims were forced into submitting to having sexual intercourse with the appellant,” Mavuto said, giving an example of an incident where Gumbura raped a virgin complainant and warned her against allowing heathens to finish off his job, saying he knew where he had “left off”.
The State also said in another encounter with a different complainant, Gumbura quoted a Bible verse, concerning a maid servant, urging the victim to submit claiming he was a man of God, while on a different complainant he threatened to place her in the hands of the devil if she did not comply.
Advocate Sylvester Hashiti, instructed by Gumbura’s lawyers Madhuku and Tapson Dzvetero, had maintained the sentence proposed by the State was still too harsh and urged the court, that in the event of upholding the conviction, it should consider cases such as the one of the late Johanne Marange leader, Godfrey Nzira, who was jailed for an effective 20 years on seven counts of rape.
Gumbura 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 the pornography charge.
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.
Gumbura’s 11 wives pledged to remain loyal to him.