Convicted RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura’s trial commenced on Tuesday with him telling the court that the woman accusing him of rape stayed at his house as his concubine. Gumbura is jointly charged with his secretary Tendai Ganyani who allegedly assisted him rape a minor he had adopted.

Represented by Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, Gumbura, in his defence, said he was being falsely incriminated for political and moral reasons.

“Gumbura attracted the attention of various politicians and civic organisations. Furthermore, the complainant did not press charges against Gumbura on her free will but was pushed by her former boyfriend who is also a former RMG Independent End Time Message congregant now attending rival Godwin Chitsinde’s church.

“Gumbura was in love with the woman and she was living at his house at No. 6 Helena Close in Marlborough, Harare, as his concubine,” he said.

Gumbura also told the court that he had sexual intercourse with the woman with her consent.
“The love relationship was terminated when the woman eloped to her boyfriend and Gumbura realised that she was seeing the man while living-in with him exposing him and his wives to HIV and sexually transmitted infections,” he said.

Prosecutor Ms Kudzai Chigwedere made an application to have the complainant testify in camera citing that she was vulnerable.
“The complainant is vulnerable in the sense that she is now married and is a former member of the church which makes her uncomfortable to narrate her ordeal in an open court,” she said.

Advocate Magwaliba opposed the application, saying: “Section 319(b) says if the presence of accused intimidates the witness certain measures can be done, it does not say that a person who wants to protect her/his reputation must be protected.

“The trials of the accused had been in the public domain and the complainant made the complaints of a rape that allegedly took place while she was not yet married.

“This case has nothing to do with her marital status, other witnesses in other cases who were also married gave their evidence in an open court,” he said.

Harare magistrate Mrs Fadzai Mtombeni granted the State’s application ruling that the complainant deserves a fair trial saying she is now a married woman and should testify in camera.

The State alleged that Gumbura took advantage of the underprivileged girl and raped her with Ganyani’s help.
The girl was one of the vulnerable members of the church who was adopted by Gumbura after an agreement between him and her father.
It is alleged that Gumbura after the adoption was responsible for her school fees and up-keep.

Ganyani allegedly ordered the girl to go into Gumbura’s office after which she locked the door from outside.
After raping the girl, it is alleged, Gumbura phoned Ga- nyani to unlock the door.

Both Gumbura and Ganyani deny the charge.