THERE was drama at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday as members of the public lashed out at the 40-year effective jail term imposed on rapist pastor, RTG Independent End Time Message Church founder Robert Martin Gumbura.
The disgruntled citizens who had been following Gumbura’s case with keen interest bemoaned the sentence which they considered too lenient for a person who “brainwashed women” and used them as sex objects.
They wanted Gumbura to get a stiffer sentence.
In passing sentence, regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya said although the State had called for life imprisonment or any sentence of over 100 years to be imposed on Gambura, regional magistrates’ jurisdiction could not go beyond a 20-year jail term per count.
“If the State felt that it wanted life imprisonment to be imposed, this matter should have been referred to the High Court where there is unlimited jurisdiction and, therefore, asking this court for such a sentence is like sending a boy to do a men’s job,” he said.
Mujaya slapped Gumbura with 15-years per count on the first two counts of rape and 10 years per count for the other two rape charges bringing the total term of imprisonment to 50 years.
He, however, suspended 10 years on condition of good behaviour saying “fairness in sentencing should be allowed to reign as opposed to emotions”.
As regards possession of pornographic materials charge, Gumbura was sentenced to a four-month jail term, which the magistrate said would run concurrently with the rape sentences and the video tapes were forfeited to the State.
Mujaya castigated Gumbura’s “fall from grace” by converting a worshiping place into a sexual palace where women had been turned into sexual objects.
“There is no doubt that pastors, elders and deacons in this church must have been aware of the blasphemous teachings in the church, including the abuse of women and children, but chose to ignore,” Mujaya said.
“A pastor’s core business must be to worship God and not sleeping with women and threatening them with misfortunes.
“In this case the accused person acted like a sheep in a wolf’s skin.”
Mujaya said Gumbura’s messages affected the worshipers and survivors in this case were going to suffer psychological trauma and stigma. Gumbura was convicted on four counts of rape and one count of possessing pornographic material, but was acquitted on five other rape charges.
Harare West MP Jessie Majome said although she was happy that Gumbura was now in jail, she felt a much harsher sentence could have been passed on him.
“This would have been the most fitting case to start a life sentence because of the very dark extent of exploitation of human beings, slavery and bondage using that kind of authority,” she said.
“The magistrate could have gone to a maximum 20 years and yet he gave 10 years each to two counts of the four rape cases as though the other two were better rape cases. Rape is just rape.”
Majome, a lawyer by profession, said Gumbura was not subjected to an HIV test and the court was left to presume he was HIV negative and noted that this was a travesty of justice.