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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Mat South communities lament the increase in GBV

Story by Providence Maraneli

VILLAGERS in Matabeleland South province have lamented the increase in rape cases and gender-based violence amid calls for relevant stakeholders to be proactive in ending the scourge.

In November last year, a nine-year-old girl was playing alone at her parents’ homestead in Matobo when a 35-year-old man lured the young girl to his house where he raped her.

It, however, did not take long for the suspect to be apprehended before he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Another man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping a neighbour in Fort Rixon.

In Plumtree, a 23-year-old man was locked away for 15 years after raping a 13-year-old girl.

These are some of the heinous rape cases that have left the police Victim Friendly Unit searching for answers.

“Our children are not safe anymore, they are raped by relatives who are supposed to look after them, it is so sad that some neighbours take advantage of children when they find them alone,” said Assistant Inspector Jonah Gondo from the Victim Friendly Unit.

Villagers are equally worried over the increase in rape cases and gender-based violence.

“We have cases where the whole village including the village head knows that a girl is being raped by her stepfather and the mother was told to keep quiet to protect the marriage. Who then will protect the child?

“We have a young man who has raped so many people here and everyone knows him and we call him Magaivha, he once raped pregnant women at Manama hospital but nothing is being done, please we need help,” said villagers.

The traditional leadership has called on village heads to be proactive in fighting gender-based violence and rape cases.

“We do not want to hear that there is a case of rape or domestic violence that is not reported in your areas. If that happens I am going to fine the village head five goats so that we end this scourge. What kind of leaders are we if we are not protecting the weak,” said Chief Maduna.

Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Honourable Omphile Marupi added his voice calling for an effective community-based response.

“We want the peace that is prevailing in the country to continue, we want a situation where everyone wherever they are feel safe, that wherever they are they know that their girl child is safe, their wives are safe from rapists.

“We do not want these other practices where people would say if we report his marriage will fail. We can’t be defending people who rape or who are the perpetrators of domestic and gender-based violence.”

This comes at a time when Matabeleland South is also grappling with cattle rustling.

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