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13-year-old rape victim reduced to tears during cross examination

 Moses
Ziyambi

A 13-year-old rape
victim from Zvishavane was recently reduced to tears after rigourous
cross-examination by defence lawyers reportedly in front of some members of the
public at Zvishavane Magistrate Court where the case of her alleged rapist was
being heard, TellZim News has learnt.

Sources said the matter
was being heard before Magistrate Charity Tonongera on Tuesday, May 18, where
defence lawyers from Chafa and Associates cross examined the unaccompanied
minor for several minutes.

In cases of this
nature, victims are normally made to testify in camera so as to protect their
dignity from the public glare and the often intimidatory cross-examination
tactics of the defence counsel.

The term ‘in camera’ is
a legal term which means ‘in private’ where the complainant appears in court
before the magistrate, prosecutor, the accused and defence counsel; without
media and/or public presence.

In other countries,
minor rape victims are made to testify through CCTV and in a separate room from
the main courtroom, and with the support of an intermediary.

The Zvishavane case
involved one 40-year-old Michael David, a Mimosa mining company employee, who
stands accused of raping the minor, on several occasions and sending her nude
pictures.

Some sources said the
case should have been heard at the regional court in Gweru as magistrates’
court do not normally try rape cases.

When contacted for
comment, Gweru Regional Magistrate Phathekile Msipa refused to comment about
the claims, insisting that she was not mandated to talk to the media.

However, members of the
victim’s family were only allowed into the courtroom after the cross examination
was complete, with the victim reduced to tears.

They say they also
found that the victim’s phone, which contained some evidence, had not been
brought to court as promised by the Zvishavane police who took it.

Some legal minds that
spoke to TellZim said it would be procedurally irregular to cross examine a
victim under such circumstances and a review of the trial could be applied by
the victim’s lawyer.

“Proceedings could be
set aside as the case would warranty trial denovo, meaning retrial as the
matter would have been done under irregular procedures,” said one expert.

The accused, who is
distantly related to the victim, allegedly raped her on three occasions
promising her many niceties, and to send her to Dadaya boarding school once she
completed her grade 7.

The case was postponed
to May 27 for continuation of trial.

TellZimNewshttps://tellzim.com
TellZim News is the leading news organization in the Southern region. It provides candid, balanced and timely news from the communities. Keeping it real. Committed to tell Zimbabwe.

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