Gumbura’s efforts to block trial hit snag

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By Mary Taruvinga

CONCERTED efforts by jailed cleric, Robert Martin Gumbura and his colleagues, to stop continuation of their attempted-jail break trial, hit a brick wall after a High Court Judge Jacob Manzunzu dismissed the application for stay of proceedings.

Gumbura had approached the top court seeking permanent stay of his trial awaiting a ruling on his application for review against a Harare Magistrate, Francis Mapfumo.

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

But the judge said continuation of trial at the lower court will not affect his application for review.

“It would appear the applicants (Gumbura and colleagues) are saying the irreparable harm to be suffered is the continuation of their trial when they are challenging rationality of being put to their defence. I will disagree in light of the circumstances of this case.

“Without delving myself into the review application, this is a matter where the first respondent (Magistrate Francis Mapfumo) did not arbitrarily dismiss the application for discharge at the close of the State’s case,” Justice Manzunzu said.

“A mere show of prima facie right is not sufficient for one to get an interim interdict, applicant must show that if the interdict is not granted, then the applicant is likely to suffer irreparable harm,” said the judge.

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 was planned.

The magistrate said the suspects should explain how the 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 pending their review application.

Gumbura and his co-accused will now have to defend themselves before Magistrate Mapfumo.