RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura was yesterday convicted of four counts of rape involving three women and possessing pornographic material. He will be sentenced on Monday and faces a lengthy jail term. Gumbura -- who has 11 wives and 30 children -- appeared composed when regional magistrate Mr Hosiah Mujaya read out the lengthy judgment, while his wives and relatives in the gallery remained stone- faced.
So full was the courtroom that some of Gumbura's relatives and friends had to be turned away.
Journalists were limited to one per media house, while security was tight.
Gumbura faced nine counts of raping six women and one of possessing pornographic material.
Mr Mujaya cleared him of four counts relating to three other women for lack of evidence.
The prosecutor, Mr Jonathan Murombedzi, recommended a lengthy jail term of above 25 years 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.
"A deterrent sentence will help society to have confidence in the justice delivery system."
Gumbura's laywer Ms Rekayi Maposa implored the court to exercise its powers judiciously with a dimension of leniency.
She said the victims benefited from Gumbura as they depended on him for survival.
"I urge the court to impose sentences that will run concurrently," said Ms Maposa.
In his judgment, Mr Mujaya said the court was convinced that Gumbura misused his position as a pastor and abused his congregants who looked up to him.
"The accused person used religion to threaten the victims and they genuinely believed that he had power over them, power to place them in the hands of Satan," said Mr Mujaya.
He said the court decided to conduct an inspection-in-loco at Gumbura's residence though neither the State nor defence had requested for it.
Mr Mujaya said he had to go and see the house where the witnesses said they could not escape from the serial rapist.
"If the investigating officers had provided sketch plans to the State to produce in court, we could have done away with the inspection.
"However, my conclusion after the inspection is that escaping from the premises was possible, but a bit difficult. The victims might have been afraid to jump over the small security wall because they were not sure of what would befall them after running away."
Mr Mujaya said if the victims were to jump over the security wall, they were going to fall into their neighbour's yard and they did not know how their neighbours would react.
"The accused, he added, was portrayed as someone who had created his own Kingdom and made his followers to separate with the outside world.
"It was only him and them with him in charge. The victims were not in full control of the situation."
Mr Mujaya noted that Gumbura's defence was tailor-made to suit him.
On the counts Gumbura was acquitted, Mr Mujaya said he was not convinced by the women's evidence.