13-year-old father to be assessed

POLICE could formally press charges against a 13-year-old boy who allegedly raped and impregnated his nine-year-old cousin in Tsholotsho.

The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act provides for the prosecution of boys under the age of 14 for sexual offences, experts have said.

Police yesterday said Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) tests confirmed that one of the girl’s cousins was responsible for her pregnancy, exonerating the girl’s father who was initially accused of the offence.

In a statement, police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said relevant arms of Government had been engaged to help ensure the law is followed.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) results obtained from National University of Science and Technology on 25 November 2022, in connection with the paternity of the nine-year old’s child have established that the victim’s cousin brother (13) is the father of the child,” the statement reads.

“The nine-year-old complainant and the suspect will receive appropriate counselling from the Police’s Victim Friendly Unit (VFU). The police is now working with other relevant arms of the Government to ensure that the due processes of the law are followed.”

The director of Women and Law in Southern Africa, Mrs Fadzai Traquino, said an assessment needs to be conducted to determine the course of legal route to be taken.

“The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act states that males from 12 years can be charged with rape. However, before the courts take that route, a number of issues have to be looked into,” she said.

“Because of the age of the accused, the law allows for a divergent programme where a probation or social welfare officer, with the assistance of a doctor, will question and examine the accused to determine if it was rape or it was consensual intercourse.

“The assessment will also determine the accused’s maturity and his state of mind. This will include if the accused, since he is also a minor, was being sexually abused himself or if he was not exposed to pornography. Only a social welfare report can determine the case forward.”

Section 63 of the Criminal Law (Codification and reform) Act reads: “The irrebutable presumption or rule of law that a boy under the age of fourteen years is incapable of sexual intercourse shall not apply in Zimbabwe in relation to boys who have reached the age of twelve years. A boy over the age of twelve years, but below the age of fourteen years shall be presumed incapable of performing sexual intercourse unless the contrary is shown on a balance of probabilities.

“Subsections (1) and (2) shall not affect any presumption or rule of law relating generally to the criminal capacity of children under the age of fourteen years.”

The girl was admitted at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and gave birth a fortnight ago via Caesarian section. She underwent early puberty.

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