A GROUP of Beitbridge women last week achieved a rare feat when they literally forced the police to arrest an influential suspected Beitbridge sex predator accused of seducing more than 20 under-age schoolgirls, six of whom are now pregnant.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Some of the girls now have babies while others are said to be deceased.
The women, who included parents of some of the girls, guardians and activists, cornered the suspect, Rayson Tsvangirai Rushwaya at the Beitbridge Magistrate’s Court on Thursday where he had come for another matter in which he is accused of insulting a journalist through a text message.
“Police were telling us they could not locate him. We knew he would be appearing in court on another matter and we pounced on him there and called the police,” said one of the women, who cannot be named to protect her under-age child’s identity.
The woman, crying as she related her ordeal following the alleged abduction of her 17-year-old child from her home in February, said she had initially wanted Rushwaya to be charged for marrying a girl who is under 18, but there were no statutes to support that.
“The police took him to court, but there were no supporting statutes to sustain the charge and he walked free.
“But when an appropriate charge was found ,police were no longer forthcoming,” she said, adding the case was moved from one investigating officer to another.
Last Thursday Rushwaya was finally charged with two counts under Section 93 (1) (b) 11 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, which makes it an offence to detain children under 17 years and denying their parents or their lawful custodian access to them.
“When we saw him at the courts, we told police we would inform [police Commissioner-General Augustine] Chihuri if they did not come to arrest him. We were ready to go that mile.
“They were saying they could not locate him yet we met him moving with my daughter and at one time I even chased his car,” said the woman.
At the courts the woman was so emotional that she approached Rushwaya’s lawyer Reason Mutimba of Masawi and Associates asking him why he was protecting “a beast”.
Apparently, the Beitbridge Police Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) was part of a panel including the Family Support Trust, Ministry of Women’s Affairs and some unidentified government departments that interviewed 15 girls from Vhembe Secondary School who confessed to sexual encounters with Rushwaya.
Surprisingly, police allegedly sat on the matter without making procedural reports to their provincial office, or following upon possible criminal leads.
Matabeleland South police spokesperson Nkosilathi Sibanda professed ignorance about the case when comment was sought.
After realising the VFU investigating officer Vonai Mudzengerere was dragging her feet and at times misleading them, the women requested for a different police officer.
“The new investigating officer at first kept us up to date with his investigations, but started distancing himself, telling us he could not find Rushwaya,” said another woman whose
16-year-old niece has since dropped out of school and is heavily pregnant with Rushwaya’s child.
After his arrest on Thursday, the women were shocked to hear that Rushwaya and Mutimba had already been to the police where a secret date for him to appear in court had allegedly been arranged.
A heated argument ensued at the courts when prosecutor Norma Sayi stood her ground that Rushwaya should be remanded in custody.
Mutimba in an address to the court presided over by magistrate Innocent Bepura, said his client was appearing on summons and should not be detained, which Sayi flatly refused in an argument that degenerated into a war of words.
Bepura had to call Sayi and Mutimba to his chambers where the argument continued, but the magistrate ruled in the State’s favour.
Mutimba accused the prosecutor of approaching the case with emotions, to which Sayi responded that if the police diary had a copy of the summons, she would have consented.
Rushwaya’s arrest, however, exposed that he could be more than a serial bed-hopping pedophile after a six carat diamond was allegedly found in his car when it was searched at the courts.
At Rushwaya’s house, police recovered a computer with scanned images of signatures of all Beitbridge Customs and Excise officers and their date stamps.
He is now suspected of being part of a large smuggling syndicate that prints false import documents understating
the value of goods and printing false declaration documents imprinting the signatures of customs officers.
He will appear in court tomorrow for his bail application on the several abduction counts he faces, as well as the new charges.