By Tendai Kamhungira
The case of four rape-accused Battlefields-based men accused of embarking on a rape and robbery spree before narrating the ordeal in a leaked WhatsApp video, has taken a new twist after a Harare lawyer representing them told the court that his clients were assaulted by members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to extract confessions on camera.
Tawanda Takaindisa, a criminal defence attorney and civil rights campaigner, will be offering pro bono legal representation to the four rape-accused men.
Thabani Gazi, 20, Prince Chirombo, 18, Rombo Chirara, 18, and Admire Chirongoma, 18, are currently in custody after being denied bail by Kadoma magistrate Amos Mbobo.
The four became a sensation after their video in which they appeared to be confessing to rape allegations went viral on social media, popularising the Shona statement tobva tadii paya (and then we had to…).
However, in their bail application filed on their behalf on Friday by Takaindisa, the legal counsel told the court that his clients are innocent, but made confessions after being brutally assaulted by soldiers.
“They were assaulted by members of the ZNA and made to make some confessions,” Takaindisa said.
He said that his clients never raped any of the complainants as being alleged by the State. He further asked the court to allow the release of his clients on $50 bail on the basis that they are of fixed abode and will not take flight.
Takaindisa told the Daily News this week that he would be representing the quartet free of charge.
Allegations against the four arose on July 4 this year when they allegedly entered one of the complainants’ room at Mungwanya Compound in Battlefields armed with machetes, knives and empty beer bottles.
According to court papers, one of the complainants is suspected to be a commercial sex worker. In one incident, the four accused persons allegedly ordered one of the complainants and her client to hide behind a curtain.
The court heard that they subsequently attacked the girls before gang-raping them.
It is the State’s case that the four used protection during the sexual encounters. Although the sex workers cried out for help, they were unfortunately subdued by the marauding quartet, it is alleged.
The gang then stole four Nokia cellphone handsets, before disappearing into the night, the State alleges.
The offence came to light when the complainants made a report to the police the following morning. Daily News