It has been roughly 180 days since he left all that he had known, loved, cared for — and abused. Now he is serving a 40-year prison sentence after being convicted on four counts of rape.
In that time a lot has happened.
The hugely popular Fifa Soccer World Cup came and went, a Malaysian aeroplane disappeared, hundreds of school girls were abducted in Nigeria, greedy fat cats were exposed to be paying themselves more than handsomely in Zimbabwe, and Israel has started a war on the people of Gaza.
For RMG End Times Message leader Pastor Robert Martin Gumbura, none of that matters.
Clad in the standard issue, white prison garb that contrasted starkly with expensive-looking designer shoes, the now clean-shaven and bald Gumbura opens up on matters close to his heart.
He is no longer Pastor Gumbura. Since being incarcerated, he has adopted the name Madzibaba Gumbura.
As enigmatic and engaging as ever, in a four-hour conversation at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Gumbura tells The Sunday Mail Extra about life behind bars and what he plans on doing when released.
And he remains unrepentant.
“As it stands, I am the popular rapist who has never raped. It feels terrible, no it’s actually torture that as a person who was used to it (sexual intercourse) roughly four times a day, I haven’t had it for about eight months.
“I am a firm believer in polygamy (he has 11 wives, all who are convinced of his innocence) and I would like to have as many as 100 women as soon as I am released from incarceration. I have observed many issues bedevilling the country’s prisoner rehabilitation systems and I think the issue of prisoners’ conjugal rights is one of them.”
Gumbura (58) gained notoriety after becoming the second high-profile clergyman to be sent to prison for such a lengthy sentence because of rape — Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira being the other.
Throughout our discussion, Gumbura maintains his innocence. He is appealing against his conviction and sentence at the High Court, even as he faces another rape charge at the magistrates’ courts.
In his eyes, he is the victim. But it shall all be well, in his view, because one day he sees himself a free man.
“As you can see, am 58 and still handsome,” he laughs. “That was the . . . reason why multitudes of ladies continuously flocked to me in droves.”
The father of 32 argues that public emotions took centre stage in his trial, resulting in his conviction.
“All the complainants were my girlfriends and most, if not all of them, had spent quality time with me in hotels and other upmarket places of interest,” he says. “Tell me something, have you ever heard of anyone who was raped at Meikles (a five-star hotel)?”
He insists that while he did have sexual encounters with the complainants, in all instances it was consensual.
For Gumbura, the whole episode is a case of sour grapes after plans to marry some of these women went awry.
“In some instances, it was never my fault as the complainants’ parents were directly responsible as they refused that their daughters get entangled in a polygamous set-up.
“Once a relationship between a man and a woman becomes physical, the best way is to marry. Never leave an affair as it has dire consequences. I am a firm believer in polygamy,” he reiterates.
He points to his 19 daughters and says as a father there is no way he would ever want any one of them to be subjected to such a heinous crime as rape.
“I cannot expect my children to be treated well when I treat other people’s children badly.”
The man who taught at Ascot, Regina Mundi and Mambo secondary schools for close to 10 years argues that his record with children during his teaching days speaks volumes about his moral uprightness.
“I don’t have any records of whatsoever abuse during my teaching days, even as one of the schools was a girls’ high,” he said.
And here is the clincher: Gumbura says the courts should be lauded for imposing lengthy jail terms on rapists and any other people who commit similar crimes.
“Stiffer sentences should be imposed on rapists, to deter would-be rapists as it is morally wrong to violate women’s rights.”
However, he argues that in his case he was tried and sentenced by the nation before his actual trial in court.
Nonetheless, he is a firm believer in Zimbabwe’s justice delivery system, saying: “It is my sincere hope that somewhere along the way, the system will pick some grain of truth in my side of the story.”
Among his regrets, the former teacher and pastor says is that he cannot enjoy the comforts of married life like he used to.
“It’s torture here and it feels terrible,” he says with an expression that tells of his despondency. “I really miss (sex) . . . I am human and it’s very natural, so as soon as I come out, I will become a fiery advocate of (conjugal rights for prisoners).”
He says his wives have pledged to stand by him till death.
“They all said they were going to wait for me and in the meantime I cannot make a solid decision in regards to their future as circumstances can change with a flip of a coin,” he says.
Gumbura is confident that his wives can survive without him by their side.
“Not long back, many local wives had husbands who went to work in South Africa for many years but still their wives waited for them and I believe my case is nothing out of the blue.”
The same goes for his congregation, which he says will soldier on despite his absence.
He says Bishop Johannes Ndanga, president of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe that temporarily banned his church from conducting services, has promised to look into the matter of his flock as soon as possible.
“Structures are in place and as soon as the ban is lifted, it’s all systems go for the church to begin worshipping again.”
His days are now spent in idle chatter with other prisoners, but he has stopped preaching since he left remand prison for Chikurubi.
The fellow inmates call him Madzibaba Gumbura, a play on his religious past and the bald head that is synonymous with both prisoners and members of apostolic sects in which male adherents are referred to as “madzibaba”.
In parting he tells us again that he is innocent. And that one day the truth shall come out.