A 43-year-old rapist stepfather has been slapped with a 30-year jail sentence after he was found guilty of raping his two stepdaughters aged nine and six before he went into hiding for seven years in a bid to evade arrest.

The man of Chief Mkoka's area in Gokwe North pleaded not guilty to both counts when he was arraigned before Gokwe-Kwekwe regional magistrate Mr Amos Mbobo last week.

He was, however, convicted after a full trial and sentenced to 30 years, five of which were suspended on condition of good behaviour.

The State's case was that sometime in 2004, the man seized an opportunity when the girls' mother fell sick and lured his nine-year-old stepdaughter to accompany him to a nearby bush to look for herbs for their ailing mother.

When the two got to the bush, he allegedly tripped the girl to the ground and raped her once before threatening her with unspecified action if she reported the matter to anyone.

Sometime in 2006, the man took advantage of his wife's absence and invited his other stepdaughter, who was then six years, to sleep in his bedroom hut. The court heard that he raped the girl once before threatening her with unspecified action in a bid to conceal the heinous act.

The matter, however, came to light when the girls escaped from home and sought refuge at their aunt's place where they divulged that they could no longer stand the sexual abuse. The matter was reported to the police leading to his arrest in 2007. He was granted bail by the High Court in the same year but fled to South Africa.

Luck, however, ran out for him when he came back to his rural home seven years after committing the crime and police got a tip-off from fellow villagers leading to his arrest in December last year.

Mr Robert Ndlala appeared for the State.

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