THE family of a minor who was allegedly raped by suspended MDC-T spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni has announced that it will appeal his acquittal at the High Court.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Phugeni yesterday celebrated his acquittal for rape charges saying the charges were fabricated. He said he was a good man and not a rapist.
Phugeni was acquitted at the Western Commonage Court in Bulawayo by magistrate Sibongile Msipa-Marondeze on Monday.
The crime was allegedly committed between June and November 2018 when the alleged victim was 14 years. However, the case came to light this year when the victim started exhibiting a change in behaviour.
In an interview yesterday, Phugeni said the charges were fabricated and were meant to “damage” his political career.
“The charges were fabricated, and that is what the magistrate said.
“It’s a great day for the Judiciary.
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“As a country, we must hang our heads in shame for allowing a good man to be charged based on false claims, with clear impunity and without any shred of evidence provided.
“This was meant to tarnish my image, vandalise my political career beyond resuscitation but the people of Zimbabwe kept coming to my inbox to tell me how much they loved me.
“There are rapists out there going for our children, and I hope that no child will be disbelieved when they report a genuine rape because of this sham accusation,” Phugeni said.
While Phugeni is celebrating his acquittal, the family yesterday revealed plans to appeal against the judgment at the High Court.
“We have met as a family and resolved to appeal at the High Court.
“We hold no beef against Phugeni, it’s nothing personal against him as alleged.
“In any case, Phugeni has been a family friend for years.
“Why would I want to fight Phugeni over a Senate seat?
“It’s disturbing that there are some people trivialising rape claiming that we want to tarnish his political image,” the mother of the victim said.
Last week, Phugeni’s lawyer Kholwani Ngwenya filed an application for discharge at the close of the State’s case in terms of section 198(3) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07).
Ngwenya cited the fact that a police report was made 28 months after the alleged violation and “moreover the report was not voluntarily made as it was made after she had been threatened to be beaten by her mother.”
He argued that the evidence seriously fell short of establishing a prima facie case against Phugeni.