Year of hell for accused rapists

A local magistrate has thrown a case out of court in which three young women and a man were accused of indecent assault, ending a year of media hype that has been condemned by local rights groups.

Three sisters Sophie (26) and Netsai Nhokwara (24), Rosemary Chakwizira (28) and a male counterpart Thulani Ngwenya (24) were jointly charged on 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault last year after being accused of sexually attacking male hitch hikers.

However, the case was thrown out by a Harare magistrate for lack of incriminating evidence.

Two witnesses, Jackous Manyanga and Robert Musingarambwi, who work in a local nightclub, gave testimonies in court. However, during the cross-examination by defence lawyer Brian Dube, they failed to prove that they saw the women committing the crime.

Human Rights lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika had predicted the women would be set free. He criticised the police for arbitrarily arresting women on those charges.

A women’s rights pressure group, Msasa Project, condemned the insensitive media reporting that labelled the women guilty before their appearance in court. When The Zimbabwean exclusively interviewed them last year, they said their lives were in danger because of a crime they did not commit.

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