BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
TWENTY-EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Nomsa (not her real name) is a bitter woman after two of her daughters were raped by the same man — their uncle.
So twisted is the story it almost sounds like the reel of a gothic-themed movie.
Shy and a bit withdrawn, Nomsa struggles to tell her story. It is clear that the incidents have hurt her badly, more so because the alleged suspect is still enjoying freedom while the criminal cases are getting cold.
“It was in March 2018 and my then five-year-old daughter and her cousin were coming from school. We were staying in Mutoko with my husband and his family. So on this day, the two were walking alone since they were quite familiar with route,” she recalled.
But unknown to the two young girls, a prowler watching from the bushes was waiting for an opportunity to pounce and this came too soon.
“The older cousin told my daughter, who was five years old, to wait as she went to relieve herself in the bushes. As she innocently waited, “Collin (not real name) approached and asked her what she was doing before ordering her to follow him into a nearby paddock,” she said.
Collin is the son of a sister to Nomsa’s father-in-law.
In the field, a few metres from her school, Nomsa’s young girl was to suffer a horrible violation that would shatter her innocence.
“He told her to take off her uniform and undergarments, after which he raped her. He then threatened to cut her into pieces with a knife and swore her to secrecy,” she said.
When they got home, Nomsa told her that they were going to a birthday party nearby and asked her to clean herself up.
“It is only when she got to the party that she started experiencing difficulty in walking. They called me and told me about it, saying she was not being clear what had happened to her,” said Nomsa.
When her daughter came back, she examined her and noticed that there was some suspicious discharges coming from her privates.
But the child did not tell her mother what had happened. Nomsa rushed to a local clinic.
“At the clinic they examined her and then told me they needed a police report first before treating her. I was now getting scared and suspicious. They told me she had been abused,” she said.
When she went to the police, her daughter still would not tell what had happened but after gentle prodding she spilled the beans.
“She told the police that Collin had threatened to cut her with a knife if she told anyone about the matter,” she said.
The police then told Nomsa to keep quiet about the matter while they conducted their own investigations. They instructed her to act normal around Collin.
“It was very difficult for me since Collin stayed near our house,” she said, fighting a losing battle with her tears.
Describing Collin as a generally quiet person who minded his own business she said she was having a hard time keeping her emotions in check especially when Collin actually asked what was wrong with the little girl saying he had been told they had gone to the clinic.
“I felt overwhelmed with anger and wanted to lash out at the person who had hurt my little girl but the police had cautioned me against such action since they were still investigating,” she said.
Collin actually came to Nomsa’s house and helped cook their meal which they later shared. All the while Nomsa was seething with anger.
“But I did not feel safe with him around so I sent my daughter to stay with some relatives. Collin again asked me where I had taken the girl and I just said she was unwell and I had decided to take her to some relatives until she had recovered,” she said.
But Collin became suspicious and disappeared the next morning. It is also alleged that he had previously raped other girls but he had never been arrested.
“But the case has not progressed since and even when we involved Childline, the police would just say they were looking into it,” she said.
Nomsa started having problems with her husband who seemed unconcerned about what had happened.
“He would beat me up at times when I asked about the case and it actually drove a wedge between us and we finally parted ways over the matter,” she said.
But her nightmare was not over. Last year, her other daughter was to meet the same fate at the hands of Collin. The nine-year-old girl, who stays with Nomsa’s ex-husband’s sister, went to Mutoko for the holidays. After the holidays, Nomsa got a phone call from the aunt who told her to come and discuss something important.
“When I got there I was shocked to hear my daughter saying that she had been raped by someone whom we suspect is Collin because I heard he was there over the holiday,” she said.
Nomsa agonised over the latest incident. The child has not been to a clinic and a docket is still to be opened.
“The aunt keeps saying she will go to the clinic first to verify if indeed she had been raped before making a report,” Nomsa said.
Rape cases in Zimbabwe are a cause for concern with stakeholders agitating for stiffer penalties against perpetrators, especially in cases involving minors.
Sadly, many of the cases like that of Nomsa’s daughters never get the justice they deserve and are either swept under the carpet or dismissed for lack of evidence.