In a shocking incident which has left Binga villagers utterly perplexed, two brothers and their cousin invoked an ancient Tonga custom to kidnap a teenage girl before taking her to their homestead in a scotch-cart where one of them raped her and latter introduced the girl to relatives as his wife.
The trio of Tivious Tshuma (23), his younger brother Courage (19) and their cousin Khulekani Sibanda (27), all of Mandimoni village under Chief Sinamagonde in the Lusulu area has since been arrested and will appear in court soon.
They allegedly hatched a plan to have Tivious marry the 17-year old girl (name withheld), under an archaic Tonga cultural practice called kwangila or kucizisya through which a man could force a woman into marriage.
After years of civilization, the outdated practice which was also known as ‘Musengabere’ in medieval Rozvi cultural practices, has since been abolished.
It is alleged that the now jailed trio went to the girl’s home in Chipali Village on May 2 and forcibly took the victim to their village using a donkey drawn cart.
In catching their target, Courage reportedly snatched the female teenager’s mobile phone and handed it over to Sibanda.
Resultantly, the girl attempted to get her phone back and the trio grabbed and threw her into the cart, state media reported.
They allegedly left the girl’s village around 8am and arrived in Mandimoni towards 7pm where Tivious allegedly took the girl into his bedroom hut and had sex with her once at night.
Tivious subsequently introduced the girl as his wife to close family members before having sex with her for the second time at night.
He is said to have also told the girl that she would not be allowed to go back to her village, as they were now husband and wife.
The girl was rescued by her parents who tracked her to Mandimoni village in the presence of police officers.
The rape victim allegedly told her parents and police that she dated neither Tivious nor his other two suspects. The three were arrested after a police report was made last Saturday.
The girl was also referred to Binga District Hospital for medical examination.
Tonga traditional leaders lashed out at the three suspects, saying it was wrong to force a woman into sex, or ‘Kujata anguzu’, in vernacular.
The custom is however still being practiced in some African societies, including South Sudan where men from the Latuka tribe kidnap girls they want and marry them.
“This is a serious offence and I guess that is why it was not formally brought to my court because it’s a police case and has to go to the magistrate’s court, “ Chief Sinamagonde told the state media.
He said long back, a man could forcibly take a girl to his homestead and make her his wife.
On the other hand, Lusulu Ward Councillor Anthony Sibanda who confirmed the incident, condemned the three suspects’ saying the custom was no longer applicable in the modern era.
“I can say this was last practised more than two generations ago and no longer there in our culture. What used to happen is that once a man saw a woman he wanted, he could suddenly grab her and carry her to his homestead and if he succeeded in reaching his homestead the girl was not allowed to return to her parents,” Cllr Sibanda said.
He also added:
“These days both parties have to be in agreement. These three forced the girl into a cart and we are told that she was screaming for help along the way which may have led her parents to where she was.”
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Siphiwe Makonese confirmed to state-owned Chronicle about the sad development, saying:
“As police we are worried that in this era people are ignorant of treaties and conventions about gender issues. While we appreciate traditional practices, people should know that it is against the law to force someone into sex or marriage, which is why such actions become rape.”
Additional Reporting: Zwnews