The community of Beitbridge is up in arms with a local customs clearing agent who has allegedly impregnated several pupils from Vhembe and St Mary’s Secondary schools in the border town.
Sources at one of the schools said the alleged sex predator, Rayson Tsvangirai Rushwaya, believed to be in his mid-20s, had impregnated about six girls but the figure could be higher as some of his victims were reluctant to come forward.
He allegedly uses his aunt, a Form Four pupil at Vhembe High School, to lure her peers for him.
Three pupils who have since come forward are 17-years-old (above the age of consent).
Vhembe High School headmaster Ntshavheni Smutha Ndou confirmed that they had a meeting with some parents of the victims recently but declined to comment further.
“All I can say is that we had a meeting with a group of parents who claimed that their children were being abused by a certain man. We’ve since compiled a report and submitted it to our superiors and they’re the ones who can comment,” he said.
The Provincial Education Director for Matabeleland South, Tumisang Thabela, said they would deal with the matter when schools open for the second term next month.
“I got a report from Vhembe High School and we’ll only be able to comment once we’ve done our own investigations when schools open,” she said.
The Minister of State Security and Beitbridge East MP, Kembo Mohadi, expressed concern over the development.
“It’s not culturally correct for this man who is said to have impregnated over six girls. I understand that the matter has been reported to the police but it has been very difficult to prosecute him basing on the landmark Constitutional Court ruling which outlaws child marriages. We need to speed up the alignment of our laws with the Constitution so that such people get properly prosecuted and punished,” said Mohadi.
A source said Rushwaya uses money as bait to lure the girls whom he dumps after impregnating.
Rushwaya yesterday denied the allegations.
It’s not true that I move around impregnating school girls. There’s only one parent who is ganging up with others simply because I’m in love with her daughter whom I want to marry. People are just trying to tarnish my image,” he said.
One of the victims, 17, who is six-months pregnant, narrated her ordeal to The Chronicle.
“When I first met Rushwaya he was driving his car and he parked it by the roadside and asked for my cellphone number and I gave him. We then started communicating and he proposed love. Initially I was reluctant but because he’d give me a lot of money I ended up giving in,” said the girl who has since dropped out of school.
The teenager also accused Rushwaya of infecting her with a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
The girl’s aunt said Rushwaya once offered to give her R6,000 for an abortion but she refused.
Another girl, a Form Four pupil at Vhembe High who was also allegedly impregnated by Rushwaya, refused to open up.
She is four months pregnant.
A nurse at Beitbridge District Hospital, whose daughter is also a victim, recently filed a report at Beitbridge Police Station. Prosecutors threw away the case, arguing that they had failed to come up with proper charges since there is no law in place outlawing child marriages.
“When I went to court, prosecutors said they couldn’t charge him under the Marriages Act since the Bill hasn’t yet been gazetted into law. My worry is that there’s lack of co-operation from some of the guardians whose children were also abused,” said the nurse.
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele said he had not received a report on the matter.
Kudakwashe Munyoro, a lawyer from Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said Rushwaya could still be charged under sections 3 and 4 of the Domestic Violence Act as read with section 52 of the Constitution.
Former Beitbridge Town councillor and women’s rights activist, Patricia Ndlovu, said residents were working on a petition to hand over to the police and local political leaders.
The ConCourt in January outlawed marriages for children below the age of 18 in line with Section 78 (1) of the Constitution. The apex court said Section 22(1) of the Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11) or any law, practice or custom authorising a person under 18 years of age to marry or to be married is inconsistent with the provisions of Section 78(1) of the Constitution and therefore invalid to the extent of the inconsistency. The Chronicle