Mighty Warriors coach acquitted

Mlauzi was arrested soon after landing from a Cosafa tournament in South Africa last year after the female colleague laid the charges against him.

MIGHTY Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi is now a free man after a Harare magistrate Esther Chichera acquitted him yesterday of two charges of indecently assaulting a female member of the technical team.

Mlauzi was arrested soon after landing from a Cosafa tournament in South Africa last year after the female colleague laid the charges against him.

In her ruling after full trial, Chichera noted that the complainant was inconsistent in her statements, impacting her credibility as the key witness.

“The inconsistencies in the complainant’s statements discredit her case," Chichera said.

“The State has failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused person. The complainant once said that the accused tried to grab her thighs, but she stepped back and then changed goalposts saying he touched her buttocks.

"The accused's defence was that he had a virtual relationship with the complainant. He denied the events of September 26. He confirmed that she came to his room to get the money for the resistance bands, and he just admired her. He was of the belief that the complainant was being used by people who wanted to tarnish his reputation as the head coach.

"In cases such as this, evidence should be treated with caution because it will be the word of the complainant against the accused.

"The essential elements of assault are intention to harm. The first time, the complainant said the accused had tried to force a kiss. The complainant introduced an issue of being raped at the police station. She also made another statement when she appeared in court. Why would she have such inconsistent statements?" the magistrate queried.

"The only conclusion is that there is no instance or that she wanted to exaggerate the matter. The court did not believe that complainant was assaulted in any way. The WhatsApp messages show that the night after the alleged assault, they had a cordial conversation. She was even sending pictures to the accused updating him on what she was doing.

"It was reported a day after and one would assume that events were still fresh. When the events were fresh she said the accused tried to grab her thighs and she stepped back. Later at the police, she said he touched her buttocks. Thighs and buttocks are two different things. There are probabilities of fabrication.

"The complainant has an shown herself to be uncredible witness. Not much time had passed so one wonders why there are such inconsistencies. The state even failed to explain why there are such inconsistencies."

In his defence, Mlauzi told the court that he never sexually molested the complainant.

“First and foremost, I can’t go to my parish priest and confess about something which I did not do. I have been in women’s football for the past 23 years and I have never violated anyone’s rights,” he said.

“I had a virtual relationship with the complainant. We used to chat freely. She used to video call me and ask for favours from me. I’m disappointed that she decided to press such charges against me,” he said.

The court heard that on September 26, at around 7pm, the complainant who is not named to protect her identity were camping at a Harare lodge ahead of the Cosafa soccer women tournament in South Africa. lt is alleged that the complainant asked for a training programme and the accused advised her to come and collect it from his room.

The State alleged that on the same day the complainant went to the accused’s hotel where she was advised by the accused that he would rather email it to her. Mlauzi then reportedly asked for a kiss from the complainant.

The accused purportedly then forcibly grabbed the complainant’s shoulders and pulled her towards him in an attempt to kiss her without her consent, but she refused. lt was further alleged that Mlauzi demanded to have his body massaged through a WhatsApp call and asked for sexual intimacy.

It was further alleged that on October 4 when they were already in South Africa at Garden Court Hotel with the rest of the team, Mlauzi instructed the complainant to come and massage him in his room.

On October 5, while at a training session the complainant told the accused that there were no resistance bands used for training. The accused told her to come and collect money from his room after training.

It was alleged that at around 3pm the complainant went to accused persons room to collect money and was given US$20, and that is when accused reportedly grabbed complainant’s buttocks and went on to say: “Chimbondipawo zvinhu izvi ndimbozvinzwa (can I have bite of this cherry)”.

 The complainant allegedly declined walked away.

The following day, the accused reportedly started harassing the complainant which prompted her to register her complaint with the team's Safeguarding Officer who later counselled and reassured the complainant.

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