They were resplendent in their designer outfits without a hair out of place, but the arduous trial has taken its toll on all 11 of the RMG Independent End Time Message Church leader, Robert Martin Gumbura’s wives, who looked tense and sombre when they appeared in court on Friday.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
The bevy of beauties, who always managed to attract attention at the Rotten Row Magistrates Court each time they made an appearance, were less vocal and refused to grant interviews like before.
They could not wait to get away from the media once the judgement had been postponed to January 31.
As they sat in court waiting for magistrate Hosiah Majaya to deliver the long-awaited verdict which had been postponed three times before, most of them looked outright nervous while a few, especially the older ones, tried to remain composed.
The case has attracted a lot of public interest and on Friday, scores of people packed the small gallery waiting for the ruling.
Police had a tough time turning away many more people who also wanted to be inside for the judgement.
However, the closure that most of the “victims” were looking for once again eluded them as Majaya announced that he was postponing the matter since he had not finished writing the judgement.
“I have been of ill health and therefore could not finish writing the judgement,” he said.
There were whispers as people in the gallery tried to understand the magistrate’s announcement.
Gumbura remained expressionless as the magistrate announced the postponement and in a seemingly resigned manner, shuffled off with the prison guards avoiding eye contact with people in the gallery.
His wives and sympathisers had strained expressions as they strugged to come to terms with another week of waiting.
Soon after the matter had been deferred, Gumbura’s wives scurried off into the sanctuary of their cars, away from the flashing cameras and public stares.
In the last postponement of judgement against Gumbura, who has been accused by seven different women of rape, the magistrate ordered an inspection in loco of the house at which the alleged crimes were committed.
Gumbura had argued in court that the alleged victims could have escaped from his house whose two gates were always open.
Gumbura also faces another case of rape involving a woman, who could not be in court during the trial as she was said to be in South Africa.
Meanwhile, the MP for Harare West, Jessie Majome speaking to journalists outside the courtroom said she was deeply disturbed by rape cases that were now happening more often in her constituency.
“I represent that area and when cases of this nature keep coming up I should have an interest,” said Majome. “I want to understand these incidences of rape and domestic violence and see if I can, as a legislator, influence the change process.”
Majome said last year a Mabelreign woman doused her husband with petrol and set him alight following an alleged domestic spat.
“The woman later drank poison and died and it is incidences like these that fan my desire to make a difference,” she said.
Another incident involved a young man who committed suicide recently at his girlfriend’s residence after he had been dumped.
Majome has been very vocal against rape and has pushed for a motion that would see the current sentence of 20 years being raised to 30 years.
“I will use instances like this case to push for my motion,” said Majome.