Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
HIGH Court judge Justice Edith Mushore has urged lawmakers to speedily craft legislative pieces protecting the rights of girls who appear in court as rape victims. In a 32-page judgment in which RMG End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura lost his appeal against conviction on four counts of rape, Justice Mushore said Zimbabwe was lagging behind in terms of creating laws that make life easier for the girls when proving their cases in court.
Gumbura is serving a 40-year prison term for raping two women and a minor from his church while using death threats and indoctrination. The judge noted that children were expected to prove the abuses perpetrated on them the same way adult victims do, a standard that is burdensome for the minors who lack knowledge, sophistication and have a natural tendency of obeying the adults.
“Zimbabwe is lagging behind other countries in the creation of legislation to protect minor children and in catering legislatively for instances where the psychology involved in sexual exploitation of children is involved. It seems to me that children should not be subjected to the same standards and burdens of proving resistance and a lack of consent as an adult person. Particularly when taking into account their lack of sophistication, knowledge and their natural tendency to be obedient to adults and in particular those in positions of authority. With such exposure, the courts would readily apply a different standard to the testimony of a vulnerable child,” said Justice Mushore.
The judge said other countries have created laws criminalising child grooming and exposing children to pornography to lower their resistance to sexual assaults.
“Section 18 (of South Africa’s Criminal Law Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act) creates separate offences for grooming of minor children to pornography and sexual acts,” said Justice Mushore.
Justice Mushore said Section 18 of the Irish Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2017 provides that persons in authority cannot avail proffer a defence of consent in rape matters.