Former Makumbe Mission primary school headmaster Silas Chitate has been acquitted of raping an orphaned Grade 7 pupil at the school, after serving two years of a 15-year prison term.
Chitate was in September 2018 jailed for an effective 15 years after three years were conditionally suspended.
Aggrieved by the trial court’s decision, Chitate through his legal counsel, Euchariah Makaka of Zimudzi and Associates, approached the High Court appealing against both conviction and sentence.
Two judges of the High Court, Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero—sitting as an appeals court – absolved Chitate of any wrongdoing, finding that he was did not commit the offence.
In its ruling, the court accepted Makaka’s submissions that Chitate was a victim of emotional justice, as the trial court failed to apply its mind to the facts and the law to arrive at an appropriate decision.
Regional magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini presided over the rape case.
However, her verdict did not escape the indignation of the judges who found the entire proceedings to be a travesty of justice and quashed both conviction and sentence.
During trial, the prosecution alleged that in June 2018, the complainant returned to Makumbe Primary School from Marondera with three pupils where they had gone for sports.
Chitate escorted the pupils to their homes but found the gate to the complainant’s house locked.
He persuaded the complainant to sleep at his house and she agreed.
It was alleged Chitate raped the girl around midnight before going to his bedroom. After a fully contested trial Vhitorini ruled that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. The magistrate handed down a long custodial sentence which was later quashed by the higher court.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court recently ordered the release from Chikurubi Maximum Prison of 2 political prisoners Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere where they had been detained since 2016 after they were convicted and sentenced to serve 20 years for allegedly murdering a police officer.
Maengahama and Madzokere were represented by lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) which confirmed the development.
The lawyers include Beatrice Mtetwa, Charles Kwaramba, Gift Mtisi and others.
MDC-Alliance national spokesperson, who is also a lawyer, Fadzayi Mahere speaking at the time said:
“Meet Last Maengahama & Tungamirai Madzorera.
“They’ve been in jail for 8 years on a baseless murder charge. Last was at church when the alleged crime happened. They led video evidence to prove their innocence. It was ignored.
“Today, they were acquitted by the Supreme Court.”