A 75-year-old traditional healer from Lupane District has been arraigned before the courts facing charges of sexually abusing eight schoolchildren over a period of three months.
The man, who lives alone in Shabula Village, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of aggravated indecent assault, a count of indecent assault and two counts of rape when he appeared before Hwange resident regional magistrate Mrs Dambudzo Malunga on Friday.
He was remanded in custody to 15 August for continuation of his trial. In his defence, the man claimed that other villagers are jealous of him because he is a traditional healer. He further claimed that he is too old and no longer has sexual feelings and that it was impossible that he could have sexually abused the children as alleged.
Mr Bheki Tshabalala for the State said all the eight children who were allegedly abused attend the same school in the area. The court heard that between January and 19 March this year, a 15-year-old boy went to stay with the traditional healer. The State alleges that one-day, the man ordered the boy to undress and lie down facing downwards.
He allegedly undressed and went on top of the boy and sodomised him. He then allegedly gave the boy a portable radio and told him to go back to his parents’ homestead.
During the same period seven children aged between five and eight years were on their way home one day and as they were passing through his homestead, he allegedly pretended to be taking photographs of them. The State will seek to prove that he called them to come to his homestead promising to give them chicken.
The children complied and he led them to his sleeping hut, which was partitioned with a curtain and a bed placed on the other side of the curtain.
When the children got into his sleeping hut, the State alleges that he locked the door and allegedly ordered them to undress and took one of the boys to the side where there was a bed and made him lie on the bed facing downwards.
He allegedly had anal sex with the boy and the boy screamed due to the pain he felt and the State claims that he muffled the screams with his hand. When he was through with the first boy, the State alleges that he called them in turns and allegedly did the same with them. The last child to go in was a five-year-old girl whom he allegedly raped twice.
The State will further seek to prove that he continued waylaying the children for the next three days and would allegedly do the same thing to them. The alleged offences came to light when one of the boys’ fathers noticed that he had arrived home late from school.
On being questioned the boy revealed that he had passed through the traditional healer’s homestead. A grandmother of another child became curious when she heard the discussion and called her grandchild and asked him why they had visited an old man who stays by himself.
After the boy had told her about what they had gone through, the grandmother made a report to the headman who advised her to hold a meeting with the parents of the other victims to verify the facts.
The children confirmed the allegations and the parents then approached the headman and the traditional leader referred the matter to the police. The headman also sent his messenger to go and arrest the traditional healer.
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