Zambia National Women Lobby chairperson Beauty Katebe says Southern Province PF publicity secretary Trymore Mwenda’s acquittal is unfortunate and will encourage other men to abuse their daughters.
And Katebe has urged Mwenda’s daughter to appeal to the High Court saying justice was denied because it was impossible for a 19-year-old to implicate her father in such a manner.
Meanwhile, PeP leader Sean Tembo says Mwenda’s acquittal represents the face of miscarriage of justice in Zambia, especially against the girl child.
On Monday, Lusaka magistrate Alice Walusiku acquitted Mwenda of indecent assault charges laid on him by his 19-year-daughter, Jane saying her testimony was self contradictory and could not be relied on since it was not supported by independent evidence.
“PW1 (Jane) alleged that when she was nine years, accused number two (Mwenda’s wife) used to awaken her in the night and called in the matrimonial bedroom where she would watch accused number one and two have sex. Further that she would be asked to touch and kiss the breast for accused number two. Evidence by PW4 (Mwenda’s sister) and PW6 revealed that PW1 used to sleep in the same bedroom with PW4, the question I ask myself is ‘ why didn’t PW4 observe that PW1 was being awakened in the night to go and do what she said?’ The answer is, PW4 did not know because nothing was happening,” she said.
“The report came after 10 years. The report came on the day when PW1 was chased from home by accused number one. There are no special compelling grounds to convict the accused looking at the inconsistencies. I’m therefore well satisfied that the evidence given at the moment falls short of establishing the prima facie case against the accused persons. I acquit the accused persons of indecent assault. The state will have 14 days in which to appeal to the High Court if they are not happy with my decision.”
But in an interview, Tuesday, Katebe said the acquittal was unfortunate because there was no way Jane could make up false allegations against her own father.
“That’s a very unfortunate circumstance. Definitely, even if it’s the court, we don’t expect a girl of nine years old or 10 or even 11 [years], to know that she needed to report this matter to anyone. At the time when the girl is grown up and she understands what it is to be abused, she decides to report and the case is thrown away just like that? It’s a very unfortunate situation. It is encouraging parents to misbehave because that’s a parent who was misbehaving and the girl this time knows her right and she decides to report and the matter is thrown out just like that, it is unfortunate. I think it was injustice done to the girl,” Katebe said.
“I don’t think a girl of 19, can now want to drag the father to court for nothing. It is not possible that from nowhere a girl of 19 can just decide to implicate the father in a very serious offence like that one. It was coming from somewhere and the court could have given her a proper hearing and proper judgement.”
Asked if it mattered how many years had passed before a victim could report a case, Katebe said in this case, it didn’t matter because the girl was very young when she was being abused.
“It may matter, it may not matter. I think in this case, it didn’t matter because the girl was being abused when she was very young and she grew up with it thinking it was normal. And maybe after a lot of publicity on GBV, on abuse of children and all that, she just realised [that] this is what my father used to do to me and she wanted the father to be brought to book. I think she could have been given a proper hearing and proper justice. I think justice was denied in this case to the girl,” she said.
“For this [case] they could have considered how old the girl was and how she took it like. For example, for me I will take it [that] she took it as a norm and then after growing up she started reading, getting exposed, then she realised ‘ooh my father was actually abusing me so let me report him to the courts’. All those issues could have been considered and she was going to be given the hearing that was due to her.”
She encouraged Jane to appeal to the High court.
“For now we can just advise the girl to appeal and I’m sure she will be heard. The girl was abused by the father and she should be given an hearing in the higher court. I have always said that its madness (to abuse a child) and people should stop such kind of behaviour which is not normal, not human, not Zambian,” said Katebe.
And in a statement issued, Tuesday, Tembo stated that after examining the Court records, he had no doubt that the court erred and misdirected itself given the ample collaborated evidence adduced before Court.
“As PeP, we have critically studied the recent judgement by the Lusaka Magistrates Court in which Mwenda was acquitted of two counts of indecent assault of his 20 year old daughter, who is a university student. After examining the Court records in this matter, we have no doubt in our minds that the Magistrates Court erred and misdirected itself, given that there was ample collaborated evidence adduced before Court, that the accused committed the offenses that he had been charged with. It therefore came as utter shock to us that the Court saw it fit to acquit the accused without even putting him on his defence,” he stated.
Tembo stated that the acquittal represented the face of miscarriage of justice in Zambia especially against the girl child and should not be allowed to stand.
“We wish to call upon the National Prosecution Authority to appeal this particular case to the High Court. There is no doubt in our minds that the judgement of the Magistrates Court represents the face of miscarriage of justice in our nation, especially against the girl child, and must not be allowed to stand. Otherwise posterity will judge us harshly,” stated Tembo.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we would like to assure the nation that, should the NPA decide not to appeal this matter for political reasons, given that the accused Mr. Trymore Mwenda is a senior party official of the ruling Patriotic Front, we shall directly engage the Complainant and consider privately prosecuting this matter through an appeal to the High Court. Whatever the case, the good citizens of this Republic should be rest assured that we in the Patriots for Economic Progress will not rest until the victim gets proper justice in this matter.”