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Legal Monitor Issue 107
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

August 22, 2011

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Double trouble for girl child

A 17-year-old girl who claims a policeman touched her breasts and physically assaulted her is in court charged with assault. The teenager, who is from Harare's Hatcliff suburb, was jointly charged with Hazvinei Ncube (28) and Evelyn Matava (18). The State accuses the teenage girl of assaulting 21 year-old policeman, Danmore Chitsanga, in January last year over a borehole water queue row. Lawyers for the girl, however, say she was acting in self-defence after the youthful cop assaulted her for resisting his attempts to jump the water queue. "The State failed to establish a case against these two (Ncube and Matava). But on the minor we will proceed to the defence since she admits having acted in self- defence," said David Hofisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who is representing the three. Chitsanga was off duty when he was allegedly assaulted, according to the State outline.

"The complainant (Chitsanga) went to fetch water from a nearby borehole. A misunderstanding arose and the first accused (the teenage girl) argued that the complainant was not going to fetch water," the State outline reads.

"The complainant distanced himself from the accused and later returned when the second accused arrived and had removed the complainant's bucket and a scuffle ensued resulting in the complainant being struck on the head and sustained head injuries from the bicycle frame used," reads the State outline.

The three were charged with contravening Section 89 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9: 23, although the State outline does not show how Ncube and Matava committed an offence. According to the defence outline, Ncube and Matava have no case to answer. Hofisi applied for discharge for the duo at the close of the State case earlier this month. Magistrate Magistrate Shelly Zvenyika is expected to rule on the application tomorrow.

"Accused persons (Ncube and Matava) deny ever having assaulted anybody, were not in common purpose with the first accused," reads the defence outline.

Under cross examination, Hofisi asked if Chitsanga was seriously suggesting that "a male constable of three years had been beaten by a minor girl child".

In response, the policeman said the 17-year-old was not a minor as she was over the age of 12.

In Zimbabwe, the Legal Age of Majority is 18.

"This off-duty officer obtained water from the borehole ahead of everyone in the queue at the borehole and when he sought to avail the same privilege again, accused person protested," reads the defence outline.

"When she protested, accused was assaulted with open hands on the face and arm twisted in a brutal assault that provoked feelings of a real threat. When the accused tried to flee, complainant hurled her against a wall with his hands on her breasts. He then picked up a bicycle beam and threatened her with it.

"Accused disarmed the complainant. Owing to the clear and present danger of further assault from complainant, and in light of the fact that accused is a minor female child who faced an imminent attack from a stronger, older masculine officer of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, she struck the complainant in order to ward off the unlawful attack," reads the defence outline.

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