Members of the public in Masvingo expressed concern over the rise in cases of rape between minors and children under the age of 18 and such cases have become prevalent in communities and common feature at the courts.
The revelation came out during the Parliamentary Portfolio committee hearing on Prisons and Correctional Service Bill and Criminal Law Codification and Reform and Amendment Bill held at Mucheke Hall recently.
Residents who attended the public hearing on the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act rallied behind the need for government to amend the law on rape and aggravated indecent assault.
One resident at the meeting pleaded for the law to consider the rape incidents between minors following the rise in cases between minors.
“We have seen a rise in the cases of minors raping other minors yet they have to walk away scot free even though they have to receive that mandatory psycho social support but then it is not enough regarding the rise in the cases. Something must be done for the juveniles that commit rape,” said the resident.
Another resident at the meeting suggested that there should be a mandatory sentence for rape of a minor and rape of an adult.
“We are aware that there can be cues between adults but this cannot be the same with a minor, so there must be a stiffer sentence on those who perpetrate such an offense on minors,” the resident said.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mutare Central legislator Innocent Gonese said the amendment entails the introduction of a mandatory sentence for rape where a minimum of 15 years is going to be prescribed in cases of aggravating circumstances and a minimum of five years applied to other cases.
“There is also an issue which has not been covered by the bill which is very topical and important because the constitutional court gave a ruling in May of 2022 in terms of which it ruled that the current age of consent which is pegged at 16 is unconstitutional.
“There have been voices that the definition of young person which is in the Criminal Law and Codification Act particularly section 70 which relates to the crime of sexual intercourse with a young person is going to be amended.
“Particularly there are also sentiments that the definition of extra marital be removed because it is giving license to older people to have sexual relations with minors,” said Gonese.
Recently in Masvingo, a 13 year old teenage boy who raped two other juveniles escaped a jail term after being pardoned by the court and was cautioned not to commit a similar offense over the next five years.
In a related case, a 28 year-old man from Masvingo was charged for having sexual intercourse with his alleged 15 year-old girlfriend.
There has also been a rise in cases of adults having sex with minors which the public considers should also attract a mandatory sentence.