The director of Women and Law in Southern Africa, Fadzai Traquino, has said the 13-year-old boy who allegedly raped and impregnated his nine-year-old cousin in Tsholotsho should be assessed to determine his maturity and state of mind.
Police on Saturday said DNA tests confirmed that the Tsholotsho girl’s cousin was responsible for her pregnancy, exonerating the girl’s father who was initially accused of the offence.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, Traquino said while the law provides for the prosecution of boys under the age of 14 for sexual offences, the boy should first be assessed before police formally press charges. She said:
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act states that males from 12 years can be charged with rape. However, before the courts take that route, a number of issues have to be looked into.
Because of the age of the accused, the law allows for a divergent programme where a probation or social welfare officer, with the assistance of a doctor, will question and examine the accused to determine if it was rape or it was consensual intercourse.
The assessment will also determine the accused’s maturity and his state of mind. This will include if the accused, since he is also a minor, was being sexually abused himself or if he was not exposed to pornography. Only a social welfare report can determine the case forward.
In a statement issued on Saturday, 26 November, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said:
The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) results obtained from National University of Science and Technology on 25 November 2022, in connection with the paternity of the nine-year old’s child have established that the victim’s cousin brother (13) is the father of the child.
The nine-year-old complainant and the suspect will receive appropriate counselling from the Police’s Victim Friendly Unit (VFU).
The police is now working with other relevant arms of the Government to ensure that the due processes of the law are followed.