TWO of the three women accused of ritualistic sexual attacks on at least 17 hitch-hikers were forced to seek refuge at a police station last Friday after they were attacked at a busy bus terminus in Gweru, New Zimbabwe.com can reveal.
Cousins Rosemary Chakwizira, 24, and Sophie Nhokwara, 26, out on US$300 bail each, fled the Kudzanai Bus Terminus in a taxi after being assaulted by a mob that recognised them from media coverage of their arrest.
The taxi raced to Gweru Central Police Station where the women spent four nights last month following their arrest. Police have launched an investigation into the assault.
The women now say they fear for their lives and are scared of walking the streets.
They are charged with 17 counts of indecent assault along with Netsai Nhokwara, 24, and Thulani Ngwenya, 24, who will answer charges of aiding and abetting the sex attacks.
Netsai is a resident of Riverside suburb where she lives with her boyfriend.
The women, who were allegedly found in possession of 33 used condoms at an accident scene – four of them half full with semen – insist that they have nothing to do with reports of countrywide sex attacks on male hitch-hikers by women who went on to harvest their semen.
Some people in Zimbabwe believe that sperms can make someone's luck improve as it is associated with new life and regeneration.
Sophie said: "People started whistling and shouting, some saying they would deal with us just as we were passing the terminus. In no time they were on us, poking, pulling and roughing us up.
“We ran to a taxi waiting nearby and luckily the driver managed to get away from the scene as the mob knocked on the doors and windscreen.
"Our life is really in danger and we are scared. Are we not suspects until proven guilty? It's as if people had already made their judgments and found us guilty.”
Nondescript ... The Mkoba house where Rosemary and Sophie live
Unremarkable ... Inside the women's Mkoba home
Speaking exclusively to New Zimbabwe.com, the two women who live together in an unremarkable house in Mkoba suburb told how their lives had been “flipped upside down”.
Sophie and Rosemary, who both admit that they are prostitutes, insist that the condoms were left by “clients” and they had packed them in a plastic bag with the intention of disposing of them.
The women deny media reports that they lead lavish lifestyles. They live in a three-bedroom unplastered house which Sophie says they were left by her grandmother.
Orphaned Sophie said a red Chevrolet Aveo involved in the accident as it was being driven by Ngwenya had been bought using money she “escaped with” from an unhappy marriage to a Mutare-based diamond dealer in 2009.
Rosemary added: “As you can see, the house still has to be plastered and the toilet is yet to be fitted with a cistern. There is nothing lavish about our lifestyles.
“We are just simple ghetto people like everyone else and we struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet.
“Electricity has been disconnected and there is a bill for $1,800. We are using firewood to cook our meals.
“It’s been hell since we were arrested."
The duo said well wishers, including friends and relatives, had to chip in to raise the bail money and legal fees – with each paying an estimated US$1,000 to the lawyer.
Sophie's elder sister, who spoke on condition of anonymity and also resides at the Mkoba house, insisted police had the wrong people – despite prosecutors saying victims had picked them at an identity parade.
Explaining how Sophie and Rosemary lived, she said: "You would find used condoms strewn all over the room and this had become a problem with other people who live in the house.
“So I encouraged them to put their things (used condoms) in a plastic bag and dispose them a distance from the house. That’s why those used condoms were in the plastic bag.”
Sophie and Rosemary said they hoped the matter would be finalised so that they could start rebuilding their lives.
The four suspects will reappear in court on November 29 for trial.