MASVINGO — A Zanu PF base commander who raped and assaulted a married MDC-T activist in the run-up to the disputed June 27, 2008 presidential election runoff, has been jailed 20 years.
In passing judgment, regional magistrate Esther Muremba described Gilbert Mavhenyengwa (55), a war veteran from Village One, Base One, Ruware Resettlement area in Chiredzi, as “a disrespectful thug and an opportunist who took advantage of the volatile political situation to rape a vulnerable woman”.
Prosecuting, Batanai Mathose told the court that on May 22, 2008, Mavhenyengwa, in the company of some Zanu PF youths, stormed the victim’s homestead where she was sleeping with her husband.
He ordered the complainant out of bed, scantily dressed, and forced her to join other toy-toying youths and go to their base, some six kilometers away.
Mavhenyengwa was following behind.
As the complainant was tired and could not run anymore, the war vet assaulted her several times with a stick.
Along the way, Mavhenyengwa dragged the woman into a nearby bush and ordered her to remove her jacket and lie down before he raped her once.
After that, the victim was taken to the base where she was assaulted severely by several youths and tortured by way of lying in cold water in a nearby river, till sunrise. She was then released after being told to stop supporting the MDC-T and defect to Zanu PF.
Her husband found her lying unconscious at home and unable to walk and had to carry her on a bicycle to Mkwasine where a police report was made before proceeding to hospital. Mavhenyengwa was subsequently arrested.
The magistrate said in passing sentence, she had taken into consideration the fact that Mavhenyengwa is a 56-year-old widower and with three minor children, including a nine-month-old baby left when his wife passed on in April this year.
The magistrate, however, said Mavhenyengwa committed a serious offence and raped a married woman, exposing her and her husband to dangers of having unprotected sex.
“There is no excuse whatsoever for such unruly behaviour,” the magistrate said. “He did not use a condom. His behaviour shows that HIV and Aids are the least of his worries. He also put the complainant at risk of being infected.
“The accused also caused a lot of trauma and suffering to her husband and extended family. He behaved like a thug. He ought to realise that crime does not pay and we have to send a message to society as well.”