High Court quashes sentence for man accused of bedding, dumping minors
THE High Court has thrown out charges against a Beitbridge man who was jailed for an effective two years for bedding and impregnating several minor girls in the border town before dumping them.
Rayson Tsvangirai (26) of Dulibadzimu suburb allegedly used his aunt, a Form Four pupil at Vhembe High School to lure her peers into the sex trap. He used his money as a bait to lure the victims before later dumping them.
Beitbridge provincial resident magistrate Ms Gloria Takundwa convicted Tsvangirai of two counts of kidnapping in terms of section 93(1) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, which makes it an offence to detain a child below 17 years of age without the consent of his or her parents. The magistrate said although the girls went to Tsvangirai willingly, the parents of the two complainants had not relinquished custody of their children.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo’s ruling followed an appeal against both conviction and sentence by Tsvangirai.
Justice Moyo ruled that the charges against Tsvangirai were unsubstantiated. “It is quite disturbing that the learned magistrate can just close her eyes to facts and decide to make findings that are totally unsubstantiated,” said the judge.
She said the State failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt as there was no evidence.
“The belief or wishes of the guardians are not evidence and the learned judge had absolutely no vein of evidence pointing towards the detention of the children by the accused person as well as his intention to deprive their lawful custodians of their control. It is not for the court to try and patch up a torn apart State case” said Justice Moyo. The judge said the victims’ evidence exonerated Tsvangirai. “Once the complainant denied staying with the accused and once no other evidence could be adduced to sustain that point the State case was finished and the accused person was entitled to be given the benefit of the doubt and be acquitted. In this case the complainants exonerated the accused person, so the learned magistrate didn’t even have any justification to believe the State case,” she said.
Justice Moyo said the magistrate was supposed to acquit the accused person. “I accordingly cannot certify these proceedings as being in accordance with real and substantial justice. As a result the conviction and sentence are quashed and accused person should be liberated forthwith,” ruled the judge.
Tsvangirai, in his application, argued that he only fell in love with the complainants but did not stay with them. He said the complainants would visit him and return to their parents’ homes.
The court heard that between October and November last year, Tsvangirai proposed love to a 17-year-old school girl and she agreed. He then allegedly went on to stay with the girl without the consent of her parents. When the girl fell pregnant, a misunderstanding ensued between the two lovers resulting Tsvangirai kicked the girl out of his house and she tried to commit suicide before he took her back.
Tsvangirai and the complainant had another dispute and he chased the girl away and she reported the matter to the police.
In February this year, Tsvangirai allegedly took another teenager and lived with her without her mother’s consent. He later tried to engage the girl’s mother for lobola negotiations, but the woman refused and took her daughter back home. A month later, the girl fled from home to settle with Tsvangirai prompting the girl’s mother to report the matter to the police —-@mashnets