Two lawyers have renounced agency in a case in which jailed RMG Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura, is contesting conviction and the 40-year prison sentence at the High Court.
Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba and Ms Rekayi Maphosa, withdrew from the case for undisclosed reasons, a development that resulted in Gumbura instructing new lawyer Mr Tapson Dzvetero.
Justices David Mangota and Felistus Chatukuta, who were set to hear the appeal, deferred the matter indefinitely to allow the parties to file heads of argument.
The prosecutor Mr Editor Mavuto, indicated that the State had been served with Gumbura’s heads of argument on the eleventh hour by the previous lawyers, hence he sought more time to respond before the court hearing.
Adv Magwaliba said Gumbura just decided to choose a new set of lawyers.
“Yes we have renounced agency, but we did not dump the client. The client simply chose an alternative set of lawyers,” he said.
Gumbura was jailed for 40 years for raping women from his church.
He is appealing against both the conviction and sentence imposed on him by the Harare Magistrates’ Court last year.
The man of the cloth, who was denied bail pending appeal, wants the higher court to set aside the lower court’s decision and acquit him of the charges.
Gumbura faced nine counts of raping six women and one of possessing pornographic material. He was cleared of four counts relating to three other women for lack of evidence.
In his grounds of appeal, Gumbura accused the trial magistrate of negating his duties, arguing that he did not evaluate evidence of the witnesses to come up with an appropriate decision.
He insisted that the acquittal was the competent verdict under the circumstances.
Gumbura argues that there was need, on the part of the magistrate, to evaluate each piece of evidence and the position of the appellant, setting out why his evidence was not acceptable compared to that of the complainants.