Gumbura prison break trial stopped

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THE High Court has stopped the trial of jailed clergyman Robert Gumbura in which he and six other inmates are accused of attempting to flee from prison. The order by High Court judge Tawanda Chitapi comes after Gumbura and his colleagues fi led an application for review of a decision by Harare magistrates Francis Mapfumo to dismiss their application for discharge at the close of the State case. Mapfumo said there was reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed. However, Chitapi ruled that the trial must be stopped pending the
hearing of the application for review. “It is ordered by consent that proceedings under magistrate Mapfumo … be and is hereby stayed pending the determination of the application to review fi led by the fi rst to seventh applicants,” Chitapi ruled. The seven, who are represented by Tapson Dzvetero, are now awaiting the ruling on their application after judgment was reserved on Wednesday. Gumbura, who is serving a 40-year jail term for rape, is jointly charged with Blessing Chiduke, Luckmore Matambanadzo, Lucky Mhungu, Taurai Dodzo, Thomas Chacha and Elijah Vhumbunu for attempting to escape from Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Two of their accomplices, Thulani Chizema and Jacob Sibanda, were cleared of wrongdoing and acquitted at the close of the State case. While making a ruling to put the seven on their defence, Mapfumo asked them to explain
why they climbed onto rooftops if they were protesting over food issues on the day in question. He also said during an inspection at the prison, he witnessed some ropes made of torn blankets and drilling on rooftops
which showed that an escape had been planned. The magistrate said the suspects should explain how the prison roof ended up with holes. “This court is of the view that the accused also have to explain the purpose of holding meetings. After all, it was after these meetings that violence broke out,” Mapfumo said. However, the seven argued that the State had failed to prove its case and they were entitled to an acquittal. “In summary, it is respectfully submitted that the State witnesses merely came to court to say what they thought was expected of them, their testimony had nothing to do with what each of the applicants did in respect of the specifi c offences they are facing,” they argued.

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