ZRP Slammed For ‘Inaction’ Over Apostolic Sect Child Rape Case

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By James Muonwa

HUMAN rights defenders, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) have expressed dismay at the ‘inaction’ by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to bring culprits to book in a statutory rape case involving members of an Apostolic sect in Marange, Manicaland province.

In a statement Wednesday, the coalition’s gender committee chairperson, Margaret Mutsamvi lamented claims by Minister of Justice, Ziyambi Ziyambi Tuesday that the ZRP “is facing resistance” in investigating the case of a 14-year-old girl, Memory Machaya who died while giving birth at an Apostolic Church shrine in Marange recently.

Said Mutsamvi: “It is shocking that law enforcement agents mandated to maintain law and order as well as protection of fundamental rights, including those of the girl child, would claim to face resistance in a case of such magnitude; a case that has attracted worldwide condemnation when the perpetrators are well-known individuals.

“The case of the late Memory Machaya is a litmus test in as far as the Government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to the protection of the girl child is concerned and the recent claim by the country’s Justice Minister ranks the country lowly in terms of protecting the girl child.”

She said it was shocking the police in Zimbabwe have often responded with brute force against citizens calling for economic, political, and electoral reforms yet they have developed a lackadaisical approach in Memory’s case.

“There can never be any excuse on the issue of Memory whom we know had been married off to a man named Evans Momberume. Of late, the ZRP has carried out successful operations against armed robbers around the country and it boggles the mind that they would fail to act against alleged shrine rapists that are well known,” said Mutsamvi.

She further claimed that over the years, there has been an unholy alliance between Zimbabwe’s ruling party, Zanu PF, and a number of Apostolic sects with the former campaigning for the ruling party during elections.

Added Mutsamvi: “This has allowed the Apostolic sects to violate the rights of girls and women with impunity. That unholy alliance must be broken!

“The rights of the girl child are sacrosanct and should never be compromised as a result of the lust for political support and power. As it stands, the girl child in Zimbabwe is at the mercy of unscrupulous church leaders and the government. Women and girls’ safety should never be exchanged for power.”

The coalition said the case of the late Memory should be the starting point of a series of clampdowns against Apostolic churches violating the rights of the girl child.

“We demand that all perpetrators, around the country, be brought to book without fear or favour. We call upon progressive Zimbabweans to continue to pile pressure on the government using all constitutional means, including peaceful protests until justice for Memory Machaya and other victims is served.”