New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Gumbura Bail Bid Deferred Again

JAILED RMG End Time Message church leader, Robert Martin Gumbura, will wait for another full week to know the outcome of his bail bid following yet another deferment of his case by a High Court judge Friday.

The embattled clergy was last month slapped with a 40-year prison sentence after a Harare magistrate's court convicted him of four counts of rape on some church congregants.

He now wants a reprieve from his imprisonment pending consideration of his appeal against both sentencing and conviction and proceeds to argue both his conviction and sentencing were wrongfully arrived at.

Through his lawyer Rekai Maposa, Gumbura insists he was an ideal candidate for bail and has since filed a 1 000 page appeal to buttress his argument.

After a brief hearing in chamber Friday afternoon, Justice Joseph Musakwa could not proceed with the hearing after it emerged the disgraced clergy's court record presented before him was in shambles.

"The matter has been postponed to 4 April," said Editor Mavuto, standing for the State, adding, "This is to allow applicant to rearrange the magistrate's court record."

Among some of the anomalies in the court record were the poor arrangement of the magistrate court's transcribed record and the missing of crucial statements by witnesses during trial.

This rendered the judge unable to proceed with the matter without the full facts of the highly publicised matter.

"It's not our problem. It's the fault of those who do the transcription and l actually noted that," Maposa said soon after emerging from the chamber hearing.

"They said that the memory card especially in relation to the witness who testified on camera had a problem ... so they have to go through the handwriting of the trial magistrate."

It is the second time in a space of a week for the bail hearing to be postponed.

As always, Friday's hearing saw the many wives of the polygamous clergy filling up the bails court room to hear the fate of the feared pastor - although proceedings were held in chamber.

Gumbura was convicted for raping some church congregants in a matter that was widely publicised and has gone on to ignite renewed organised campaigns against massive rape in Zimbabwe.

Despite his apparent fall from grace, it has emerged he still remains a key figure on administrative matters of his disintegrating church, with church figures occasionally consulting him during prison visits on how to handle business.

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