Church authorities started hearing rape allegations against RMG Independent End Time Message leader Pastor Robert Gumbura in the 1980s but the cases were never reported to the police, a leading cleric with Spoken Word Ministries told a Harare court yesterday.
Pastor Godwin Chitsinde told the Harare Magistrates’ Court that he baptised Gumbura in 1978 after he had joined End Time Message, where he was a minister then.
He said back then he used to receive reports of Gumbura abusing girls from the church and would question him.
“Since 1988 I would get such reports. Sometimes I would call him so that he will give his side of the story and the accused would vehemently deny the allegations.
“In 1997 I also received a report to the effect that Gumbura had raped another girl from the church and surprisingly the girl was his niece. When I asked him about the allegations he only said to me: “Muzukuru mukadzi” (a niece is a wife),” he alleged.
Gumbura, who is facing allegations of raping seven women from his church, accused Spoken Word Ministries leader Pastor Godwin Chitsinde of conniving with the victims to fabricate rape charges against him.
Gumbura said he was a victim of church politics since his split with Pastor Chitsinde’s congregation.
However, Pastor Chitsinde dismissed the claims saying that he did not even know the victims.
“Your Worship, we are not rivals as alleged by the accused. We are not in the same league considering that I have more followers compared to him.
“I once saw a report he wrote in which he was saying that his church had only 50 followers after most of them left when he started preaching about polygamy.
“I baptise over 100 people per week at my church. Surely, how can I be jealous of someone who has only 50 followers?
“In as much as I do not believe in having more than one wife, I do not have issues with polygamists since it’s not a crime to be in a polygamous union.
“I just don’t believe in them,” he said.
Pastor Chitsinde said he had better things to do than fight Gumbura.
A 29-year-old woman whose testimony had to be cut short on Monday because of time yesterday continued with her testimony, narrating to the court how the man of cloth allegedly deflowered her.
The woman, who was 17 at the time of the alleged abuse, said Gumbura raped her on the basis that he wanted to test her virginity.
She produced torn, blood-stained underwear which she said she was wearing on the day in question.
“He started raping me around 7pm until around 11 pm and all this happened while I was crying for help but those who were in the house, including his second wife, Queen Bunga ignored my screams. Instead they even increased the television volume.
“He said he was not going to leave me until he broke my hymen. He said he wanted to ascertain if indeed I was a virgin adding that most girls he had slept with were in the habit of lying to him about being virgins.
“After the rape, I left the room and went outside crying. The ‘sisters’ who were also staying there followed me and consoled me. They told me that the accused person was also in the habit of raping them on various occasions,” she said.
The woman told the court that she refused to sleep in Gumbura’s house that night. Gumbura and Queen Bunga allegedly accompanied her to Pastor Tawanda Nehowa’s house, saying the latter would take her to a job interview the next day.
She said on their way to Pastor Nehowa’s house, Gumbura told his wife that the victim was playing hard to get and in response Queen Bunga asked her why she was being hard on the man of the cloth.
The complainant said Gumbura raped her on several occasions and he would say; “Hazviite kuti kana watanga ngoma iyi woirega. (It’s not possible to stop once you have started.)”
She said he proposed to marry her and she turned him down.
The woman alleged that this angered Gumbura and when she got a job at a general hospital, he forced her to surrender all her earnings to him for two years as pay back for raising her.
“I could not leave his house because it was always under guard. I was also afraid to report to the police because he said that the police were under him and also that he was connected to top Government officials.
“The accused had also threatened to commit me into the hands of the devil.
“I know some of the people whom he committed to the devil and they died due to his spells, some went mad and some are now wheel chair-bound due to accidents caused by the accused person,” she alleged.
Through his lawyer Ms Rekai Maposa, who is being assisted by Mr Emmanuel Samundombe, Gumbura accused the woman of fabricating charges against him.
He said he was actually in love with the complainant and the charges were sour grapes between them since he had not bought her a house and a car like he did for his 11 wives.
“The accused will put it to you that since you had several opportunities to flee, you endured the suffering because you were cohabiting as husband and wife,” said Ms Maposa.
In response, the woman said she was brainwashed, indoctrinated and threatened by Gumbura.
The trial continues today before Regional Magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya.
Harare area public prosecutor Mr Jonathan Murombedzi is leading State evidence and he is assisted by Ms Kudzai Chigwedere.
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