FORMER Makumbe Mission primary school headmaster Silas Chitate has been acquitted of raping an orphaned Grade 7 pupil at the school, after serving two years of a 15-year prison term.
Chitate was in September 2018 jailed for an effective 15 years after three years were conditionally suspended.
Aggrieved by the trial court’s decision, Chitate through his legal counsel, Mrs Euchariah Makaka of Zimudzi and Associates, approached the High Court appealing against both conviction and sentence.
Two judges of the High Court, Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero—sitting as an appeals court – absolved Chitate of any wrongdoing, finding that he was did not commit the offence.
In its ruling, the court accepted Mrs Makaka’s submissions that Chitate was a victim of emotional justice, as the trial court failed to apply its mind to the facts and the law to arrive at an appropriate decision.
Regional magistrate Ms Nyasha Vhitorini presided over the rape case.
However, her verdict did not escape the indignation of the judges who found the entire proceedings to be a travesty of justice and quashed both conviction and sentence.
During trial, the prosecution alleged that in June 2018, the complainant returned to Makumbe Primary School from Marondera with three pupils where they had gone for sports.
Mr Chitate escorted the pupils to their homes but found the gate to the complainant’s house locked.
He persuaded the complainant to sleep at his house and she agreed.
It was alleged Chitate raped the girl around midnight before going to his bedroom. After a fully contested trial Ms Vhitorini ruled that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. The magistrate handed down a long custodial sentence which was later quashed by the higher court.