HARARE – A High Court judge has freed on $500 bail Independent End Time Message founder Robert Martin Gumbura, accused of raping congregants, after the State consented to his release.
Gumbura is jointly charged with Tendai Ganyani.
Prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba said that even though the two were facing serious offences, that alone was not a reason to deny them bail.
“In the conclusion it is respondent (State)’s humble view that there is no danger to the due administration of justice if the applicants were to be admitted to bail pending trial in terms of the draft order,” Nyazamba said.
He said the strength of the State case was on the lower scale, considering the time that lapsed before the complainants reported the matter to the police.
Prosecutors allege that the offences were committed in January 2005, when Gumbura picked one of his parishioners (name withheld) from her workplace to his house for counselling because she had engaged in a relationship with someone who was not their church member.
He allegedly demanded to have sexual intercourse with her but she refused.
She later obliged, fearing she might be cursed after Gumbura told her that she had committed an abomination by engaging in a relationship with an outsider.
The court heard Gumbura later called the woman in the evening and took her into his bedroom, where he read Bible verses, before making claims that he had brought salvation to her and therefore should have sex with her.
Gumbura allegedly raped the woman, before repeating the act the following week.
The woman reportedly fell pregnant on two occasions but Gumbura forced her to abort.
The court heard Gumbura would force her to commit oral indecencies on his privates, urinate on her stomach and sometimes perform group sex with several other participants.
She finally made a police report on October 24 this year.
The State claims Gumbura also sexually abused his sixth wife’s sister, after luring her to buy ice cream after a church service in November 2005.
The State alleges another woman was sexually molested by Gumbura in 2009, after being called to the pastor’s offices by Ganyani.