Gumbura bid to escape prison break trial hits snag again

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By Mary Taruvinga

JAILED cleric, Robert Martin Gumbura and colleagues’ attempts to escape prison break allegations hit a brick wall again Monday when the Supreme Court tossed their appeal against the High Court’s ruling dismissing their application for stay of proceedings.

High Court Judge, Jacob Manzunzu early this year dismissed inmates’ application saying they did not give the court enough reasons why they sought stay of proceedings.

Gumbura and accomplices had approached the top court seeking permanent stay of trial awaiting a ruling on their application for review against a Harare magistrate, Francis Mapfumo’s earlier ruling.

Mapfumo dismissed their application for discharge at the close of State’s case saying there was reasonable suspicion that a crime was committed.

On Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed their appeal.

“Having read documents filed of record, here is the court’s ruling; the application is dismissed with no order as to costs,” said Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza.

She was sitting with Justices Lavender Makoni and Francis Bere

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 the inmates, Thulani Chizema and Jacob Sibanda were cleared of any wrongdoing and acquitted at the close of State’s case.

Mapfumo said the seven should explain why they went on 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 the meetings. After all, it was after these meetings that violence broke out,” he ruled.

The suspects then filed an application for review which was followed by the current application seeking to stay proceedings.