Zimbabwe: Ritual Rape – Cross-Border Transporter Jailed 42 Years

Thupeyo Muleya — An attempt by a 53-year-old Beitbridge-based cross-border transporter to get rich through raping his teenage daughter has seen him locked behind bars for the next 36 years.

The man started raping the teenager from August 2020 when she was 13 until she fell pregnant at the age of 16 years last year.

In court the daughter testified that the man raped her alleging he wanted to boost his chances of making more money.

Before the judgment and sentencing yesterday, the Beitbridge Regional Court’s yard was filled with community members who were keen to get first hand details on the trial’s outcome.

A few weeks ago, through his lawyer, Mr Muchineripi Nhire, the cross-border transporter denied the charges and had his bid to stop the trial dismissed by Beitbridge regional magistrate Mr Innocent Bepura.

The man was found guilty of raping his daughter from the previous marriage and colluding with his new wife to illegally abort the pregnancy in December last year.

The 47-year-old step mother has already been jailed for four years by a local magistrate for causing the illegal abortion.

The cross-border transporter, who is 37 years older than his daughter, has an effective jail term of 36 years after six years of his 42 years’ sentence were conditionally suspended for 5 years after his eventual release.

He was convicted on two counts of rape in August 2020 and September 2023 and was slapped with 20 years for each count. An additional two years was added for the conviction of indecent assault after his attempt to rape the girl was thwarted his other daughter in October 2022.

“Rape is a serious offence against women and in this case it’s even worse your raped your own child for ritual purposes. Instead of being a protector of your children you decided to be the abuser.

“This court will not take lightly such violent behaviour against children and women.

“We need to send a strong message to would-be offenders by sending you away for a lengthy period,” said Mr Bepura while delivering the sentence.

He also rebuked the defence lawyer, Mr Nhire, for playing games with the court after he kept making excuses for the trial to be concluded.

Presenting evidence in aggravation, prosecutors Mr Willbrought Muleya and Miss Tsitsi Mutukwa submitted that the man had done the unthinkable all for the love of getting rich. He had also colluded with his wife now in prison to carry out an illegal abortion that could have killed the girl.

“What makes the case worse is that throughout the trial the accused person did not show any signs of remorse and he chose to waste the court’s time playing hide and seek.

“He is a close relative and committed the unthinkable. The accused is 37-years-older than the victim who will for a long time suffer the trauma of the sexual assault and the illegal abortion,” said Mr Muleya.

In mitigation, Mr Nhire prayed for clemency arguing that the accused was unemployed and a father of five children all of school going age and that he had for the past four years been suffering from heart problems and high blood pressure.

In August 2020, the father arrived home at night and found the 3-year-old in the company of her step-mother and other children.

While helping her with schoolwork later that night he raped her. He tried to rape her again in October 2022 but failed after finding her sleeping with her elder sister.

But he raped her again while she was asleep in September last year.

The prosecutors said in 2022 the girl alerted her elder sister about the assaults. She at first did not believe her, but later told their stepmother who threatened to divorce the cross border transporter.

She later softened up after he claimed he assaulted the child as part of a ritual to make more money.

The State said on December 3 last year the stepmother discovered the pregnancy and asked the complainant about its paternity.

The teenager narrated her ordeal and the stepmother bought some medication after agreeing with her husband to terminate the pregnancy as a way of concealing the offence.

The issue came to light when one of her friends got information about the incident and advised a religious leader and the matter was then reported to the police.

The girl was taken to Beitbridge District Hospital for medical attention where it was discovered the pregnancy had been terminated.

The couple was arrested and the medication used in the illegal abortion was recovered from their house.

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