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6 years jail for forced circumcision


CHIREDZI — In a ruling that has left Shangani traditional leaders tongue-tied, a local clansman, Masenyani Mandhalele of Chilonga Village, Chief Sengwe,was last week slapped with a six-year jail term after he kidnapped a fellow villager and circumcised him against his will.

Mandhalele (29) was convicted on one count of leading a team of youths which kidnapped John Chakabaya and force-marched him to their circumcision clinic in the bushes where they then circumcised him.

Madhalele was convicted and sentenced despite his plea of not guilty when he appeared before Chiredzi magistrate Tinashe Ndokera last Friday.

Said Ndokera: “I understand that the accused is a first offender and a family man, but on the other hand it is difficult to overlook the manner the offences were commited. Both offences were committed in deplorable ways.”

Public prosecutor Liberty Hove told the court that on August 31, 2010, Masenyani and 10 other men went into a bush where John Chakabaya was fetching firewood. When Chakabaya realised that it was the Shangani regiment on their annual circumcision festival, he stopped his chores as a sign of respect for the traditional practice.

Unmoved by his show of respect to his culture, the group made a cow horn around him and force-marched him to Chikulingwi circumcision base where he was forced to be undergo the knife.

The court heard Chakabaya was undressed and stayed naked for the 11 days they kept him hostage. As punishment for being the only alien among the Shangani people, Chakabaya was forced to sit on a rock for two hours every day and was denied medication, decent food and shelter.

Upon his release, Chakabaya reported the matter to the police, leading to Mandhalele’s arrest. Mandhalele later fled to South Africa but was rearrested last week when he resurfaced at his rural home.

For the kidnapping charge, Mandhalele was sentenced to four years in jail of which one year was suspended on condition of good behaviour.

The court slapped him with a two-year jail term before one year was suspended, leaving him to serve an effective four years in jail.

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