A Harare Magistrate has ruled that convicted cleric, Robert Martin Gumbura together with seven other co-accused persons have a case to answer on the failed prison break at Chikurubi Maximum Prison while two were acquitted at the close of the State’s case.
Regional Magistrate Elija Mapfumo ruled that there was conflicting evidence from testimonies in respect of Thulani Chizema and Jacob Sibanda hence they were acquitted while the others are to proceed to the defense case.
He ruled that Gumbura, Blessing Chauke (25), Lucky Mhungu (38), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37), Elijah Vhumbunu (38) and armed robber, Lucky Matambanadzo (39) have case to answer in respect of what they were doing on top of the prison and what the purpose of the rope that was made of blankets in their demonstration against food.
Mapfumo ruled that from the testimonies, it was apparent that Gumbura is influential in prison and that he had a hand in the demonstration. Gumbura together with the other six remaining accused persons will proceed to the defence case to try and exonerate themselves on the matter.
The gang is believed to be the masterminds of an attempted prison break at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in 2015 which saw the destruction of property, injuries of prison officers and also loss of lives.
The matter was rolled over to April 24.
The gang is facing charges of attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances or alternatively conspiracy in aggravating circumstances for malicious damage to property.
Allegations are that on February 13, 2015 at around 9am, the inmates refused to eat porridge which had no sugar. They demanded to see the officer-in-charge, a Chief Superintendent Marange, who then sent his deputy, a Superintendent Dumbura, to address them.
At that time, the inmates pushed out of the food containers which had been brought for lunch, refusing to be addressed by Dumbura.
Dumbura left the complex’s C Hall and went to D Hall, where he ordered for food to be brought in and served to those who wanted to eat.
The court heard that before the food was served, Titus Mandikodza, who is now late, went on top of the roof through a hole in the asbestos sheets, which they had already drilled. At that moment, it is alleged, Vhumbunu and Sibanda took sadza and vegetable relish and threw it at Dumbura and that is when violence erupted with prisoners vandalising property worth over $450 000.