A 17-year-old Hurungwe girl whom a local MP, Franco Ndambakuwa, took for a wife under curious circumstances committed suicide last week following alleged brutal physical abuse at the hands of the parliamentarian.
Ndambakuwa, MP for Magunje, paid two beasts and $300 as roora (bride price), according to Shona tradition, before the girl’s parents agreed to bury their daughter at their homestead.
NewsDay this week visited the village where the girl was buried in Hurungwe.
The girl’s relatives related how the MP allegedly impregnated the girl when she was 15 before marrying her to avoid prosecution for having sexual relations with a minor.
Ndambakuwa Wednesday confirmed his relationship with the girl whom he referred to in the interview as his “wife” but accused her of promiscuity.
The girl’s relatives said in interviews that the MP constantly assaulted the girl, accusing her of having affairs.
They said when the girl took poison last week, she had been badly assaulted.
The girl’s mother , Eunice Tawana, said Ndambakuwa had asked her to accompany him when he took the deceased to hospital. She was not aware that her daughter had taken poison.
Tawana said her daughter spoke about the abuse she suffered at the hands of the MP when she was on her deathbed in hospital.
Tawana said she only got to know that the deceased had taken poison when nurses asked her how much poison the girl had ingested. “That’s how I came to know of the suicide,” she said.
The MP yesterday seemed to confirm the assault.
“Mukadzi wako akahura unoita sei? (What would you do if your wife sleeps with other men?),” Ndambakuwa asked, responding to a question on whether it was indeed true that he had assaulted the girl before she committed suicide.
He said he was not sure of the girl’s age although he had lived with her as a wife for at least two years, up to the time of her death.
“Kana uchinyenga musikana unobvunza makore ake here? Unomubvunza birth certificate rake here? Anokunyeperaka kuti umude.”(If you are asking a girl out, do you ask for her age?” he asked. “Do you ask a girl to produce her birth certificate? She will obviously lie so that you just fall for her.”)
“I only got to know of her age when the nurses asked her (on admission to hospital where she died). I didn’t know all along,” said Ndambakuwa.
The girl was four months pregnant at the time of her death.
Her first pregnancy, conceived when she was 15, was aborted under unclear circumstances, the girl’s relatives said.
The girl’s sister, Lucia Tawana, said when the girl fell pregnant two years ago, the MP, who was responsible for the pregnancy, offered to marry the girl to avoid arrest for statutory rape.
The girl became his third wife and they lived together at Mudzimu Growth Point in Hurungwe, Lucia said.
According to his profile, recorded with the Parliament of Zimbabwe, MP Ndambakuwa was born in 1968, making him 42 years old.
He, however, claims to be a war veteran although he must have been only 12 at Independence. Tawana said she heard about her sister’s involvement with Ndambakuwa when she was in Botswana.
“I tried to stop the affair by reporting to the police but it was too late for she was already pregnant. A docket was, however, opened at Karoi police station,” Tawana said.
Karoi police confirmed a docket on the case existed but could not be drawn into revealing details of the case.
People close to the girl alleged that she was physically abused on many occasions by the MP who accused her of being a prostitute.
The MP is said to have last week confessed at the girl’s funeral that he used to beat her up because he loved her but was angered by her alleged extra-marital affairs.
“Mukadzi wangu ndaimuda asi aiita zvevakomana (I loved my wife but she had extra-marital affairs),” the MP allegedly said at the funeral.
Yesterday Ndambakuwa said he had taken the girl as a wife out of pity because her parents used to mistreat and neglect her.
“I took her in because she had been neglected by her parents and I had to accept the pregnancy out of symphathy,” he said.
Pressed on the issue of the girl’s age, Ndambakuwa insisted he did not know her age. “I am an honourable member of the House of Assembly and I have better things to do,” he said. “If you want to hear more of what happened, come to my office and stop listening to MDC people who want to tarnish my image.”