By Kay Kaseke
BULAWAYO – More than 15 residents in Mahatshula, Bulawayo, have gone on an indefinite period of fasting, praying for the release of a man who is in custody for allegedly raping a six-year-old girl arguing that they believed he was framed by the girl’s mother.
The residents say divine intervention would save the man, whom they describe as sociable. They also said he had helped a number of people in the area by doing menial jobs.
The accused person (29) is according to court records, facing a rape charge.
According to court papers the accused, a relative, who was living with the victim’s mother, on the fateful day refused to go to the grinding mill to have their maize ground as he is said to had been busy.
The victim’s mother then returned home to find her daughter in the accused’s bedroom naked.
She reported the matter to police leading to his arrest.
The accused last week appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sibongile Msipa who remanded him in custody to Wednesday, awaiting a medical report to determine if the child was raped.
However, neighbours of the woman have refused to buy her statement and are fasting for the release of the accused.
One of the neighbours, who identified herself as Na Lulu said the victim’s mother was being heartless as she wanted to get rid of the accused because the two had an affair and since her husband was about to be released from prison the only way of getting rid of him was by having him arrested.
“She had him arrested because she wanted to get rid of him.
“He is a good person and now we are fasting so that he can be released from prison,” she said.
Another neighbour, Mr Shadrick Sibanda, who is also fasting, said the victim’s mother conceded that she lied about the rape.
He said the accused was brought to the house after the woman’s husband was arrested for theft last year and she was telling neighbours that he was a prophet who was staying with her to chase away evil spirits.
“The daughter, who is just six years old, was last year caught cuddling with her seven-year-old male cousin, why didn’t they go to child friendly support, their daughter has a problem,” he said.
He said the neighbours would fast and pray that the accused be found not guilty as he was a good person who did menial jobs for many households in the area.
“We have been fasting for more than a week now.
“We will stop praying and fasting when he is released from prison,” said Mr Sibanda.
However, the woman at the centre of the saga said she was shocked to hear that people were actually fasting for the release of the accused.
She, however, dismissed claims that she was having an affair with the accused saying she was related to him.
“We are related hence I cannot have a relationship with him.
“Even my children call him uncle — right now I am trying to focus on the rape issue and if my daughter will ever be the same again,” she said. Sunday News