By Ruth Butaumocho
He may be serving a 40-year prison term for rape, but his love life has not been affected. If events witnessed at the ongoing Family week at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison are anything to go by, then convicted rapist, Robert Martin Gumbura’s polygamous marriage to 21 beautiful women is far from over. Although Gumbura is living his life on the other side, and will most likely spend his last days in jail, his 21 wives – nine of whom are still to bear him children – still stand by him, four years after his incarceration.
The wives have remained loyal to their marriage vows and will not be leaving any time soon, so they say. During a visit to the prison yesterday, Gumbura could be seen revelling in the company of 17 of his wives and his four young children. Four of his wives, who were not present, were said to be engaged in family errands and preparing to bring 34 of his children and eight grandchildren to visit him today (Saturday).
“My wives and the whole family will not desert me. I am still the man of the house,” a beaming Gumbura declared during an interview at the prison. Gumbura said his polygamous marriage had stood the test of time, owing to Biblical teachings that he imparted to his wives, when he was still the founder and pastor of RMG Independent End Time Message.
“I taught them to understand that although they were many, they were one and I was their only husband”
“Mukuvadzidzisa kwandakaita, ndakavarakidza zvavana Dhavidhi zviya, zvavana mambo Solomon. Vakaverenga vega ndokubva vajekerwa nenyaya yacho, vakabva vaibata, yakadaro,” (I shared with them different narratives from the Bible ranging from that of King David and King Solomon. They also read and understood the teachings) Gumbura added that his wives chose to ignore different social interpretations of the Bible that were often peddled on different forums.
“They do not listen to these interpretations. I taught them well. They are a unified group, who are eager to remain as such. That alone has helped them to work on the farm and produce enough for their upkeep and the children. We used to produce 120 tonnes of maize every year in addition to the livestock and other produces we had on the farm. But now, they can only produce 20 tonnes. Do not forget that they are women and cannot do much,” he said. Gumbura said while the family could be facing challenges here and there owing to his absence, he had no reason to worry about any of his wives cheating on him. Even in his absence, Gumbura is certain that his flock will not stray. However like any man in his situation, Gumbura yearns to be intimate with his 21 wives.
“It has been four years and I have not been intimate with any of my wives. I yearn to play my part as their husband. It is expected of me. I applaud the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services for taking a positive approach in creating this platform where we can interact with our families. I hope they will go a step further and create a conducive environment where we can also be intimate with our wives. The Family Day is a nine-day event. If the opportunity was there, I would have been intimate with 18 of my wives, two on each day, during this period,” he said Gumbura’s second wife, known as Queen Bunga reiterated that none of the wives had any plans to abandon the marriage despite the challenges they were facing.
“We have not been intimate with baba for a long time but we will not stray. We are still guided by our marriage vows which implore us to be faithful no matter how difficult the circumstances can be,” she said. The family now hopes that the conviction would be set aside so that they can be reunited with their father. Gumbura was in 2014 sentenced to 40 years in prison after he was found guilty of four counts of rape involving three women and of possessing pornographic material.
Of the four counts of rape, the magistrate sentenced Gumbura to 50 years behind bars and four months for possession of pornographic material. Ten years of the term were set aside on condition of good behaviour and the four months will run concurrently with the 40 year jail term Gumbura unsuccessfully appealed against the conviction at the High Court. The Herald