Zimbabwe: High Court Stops Gumbura Prison Break Trial

24 January 2020

The High Court has blocked the magistrates' court from prosecuting jailed cleric Robert Martin Gumbura and six others on prison break charges until it rules on their review application for discharge.

High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi stopped the prosecution when the State and the defence both agreed to suspend the case until the High Court has made its review ruling.

Gumbura and six other inmates are facing charges of attempting to break out of prison in 2013.

Gumbura's alleged six accomplices are Blessing Chiduke, Luckmore Matambanadzo, Lucky Mhungu, Taurai Dodzo, Thomas Chacha and Elijah Vhumbunu.

The accused were contesting a ruling made by Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo, who dismissed their application for discharge at the close of State's last year.

The development comes after Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi had filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking the dismissal of the accused persons' application for the review of Mapfumo's ruling.

According to Hodzi, seven months had lapsed since the case was put before the High Court, but the cleric and his co-accused were yet to file their affidavits.

Mr Mapfumo ruled that there was reasonable suspicion the suspects committed an offence and should be put to their defence.

Two of the inmates -- Thulani Chizema and Jacob Sibanda -- were acquitted at the close of the State's case.

Mr Mapfumo said the remaining seven should explain why they went on prison rooftops if they were protesting over food on the day in question.

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