Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Former Bikita West parliamentarian Munyaradzi Kereke’s appeal against both conviction and sentence for raping an underage girl was on Tuesday deferred to a later date.
Kereke is serving 10 years for raping his then 11-year-old niece at gunpoint. The appeal, which had been set down for hearing on Tuesday, could not commence because the judge seized with the case was not available.
The defence team led by Advocate Thabani Mpofu is challenging Kereke’s conviction. In his heads of argument, the lawyer contended that the evidence linking Kereke to the rape was dubious and appeared to border on fantasy.
“The appellant’s conviction is patently dubious and has led to a serious miscarriage of justice,” said Adv Mpofu. He said the evidence relied at trial was so incredible that when considered holistically could not have constituted rape. Among examples cited by Adv Mpofu was an account of the rape episode where in the first statement the victim said the incident took place at 7.30pm. Appellant was in the lounge whilst food was being prepared. But according to the court, the incident occurred at 3am.
“In the first statement, the report was made two weeks after the event. In the story that convicted appellant, the report came in months later,” said Adv Mpofu.
“The statements given to the police are themselves contradictory. In one statement, appellant totally undressed the victim. In the other, he simply lifted the dress. In one statement, after the act, the victim went into her room and slept after the incident. In the other, she wept all night through.”
Adv Mpofu argued that the more one looked at the case the more the apparent discrepancies.
Private prosecutor Mr Charles Warara has since filed his heads of argument. He is strenuously opposing the appeal arguing that the trial court conducted itself well and properly convicted Kereke.
Mr Warara is urging the court to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that it is devoid of merit. In his judgment, the trial magistrate, Mr Noel Mupeiwa, found as facts that the victim was a minor when she was raped.
He took the age of the girl into account and that a gun was used in the commission of the offence. It was also noted that Kereke was related to the victim. Kereke has twice after imprisoned unsuccessfully sought bail pending appeal at the High Court.