A 21-YEAR-old Plumtree man allegedly beat up and raped two juveniles after threatening them with goblins.

This was heard when Nesbert Dube, who is originally from Tsholotsho but employed as a herdsman in Madlambuzi, appeared before Bulawayo regional magistrate Mark Dzira facing two counts of rape and aggravated indecent assault.

The juveniles, both aged 11, and cousins, told the court that Dube came to them on the pretext that he wanted water to drink but later raped them. The girls, who are doing Grade Six and Seven, said Dube assaulted them with a switch and fists before raping them. They narrated how he beat them up together with their young brother aged six.

Dube allegedly removed the boy's trousers and told him to sit under a tree, claiming that he had goblins that would take his life if he fled. He also allegedly used the same trick on the Grade Seven pupil whom he dragged 60 metres away from the other juvenile and told her to sit claiming he had goblins that were watching her and would inform him if she tried to escape.

Both juveniles described the colour of clothes Dube was putting on on the fateful day. Dube pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The state led by regional prosecutor Tinashe Dzipe alleges that on 8 January this year, at around 11AM, Dube was approached by an old man, Isaac Mbuso Sibanda.

"They were both looking for cattle when they met the three juveniles and asked whether they had seen their cattle but they professed ignorance and the two men continued with their search. Later on, Dube went back alone and asked for water to drink from the minor before he produced a switch and started assaulting them with it," Dzipe told the court.

The state alleges that he took the Grade Seven pupil 60 metres away from the other juvenile and threatened her not to leave and went back to the other minor girl. He then ordered her to remove her panties but she refused and he forcibly tore them off and threw them away.

"Dube then pushed her down and raped her and proceeded to his second victim," said Dzipe.

The juveniles reported the incident to their grandmother who informed some of her neighbours and a search for the man was conducted.

They followed Dube's spoor but got lost along the way and went back to the fields. They followed another spoor which led them to Sibanda's home. Sibanda told them that he did not know Dube but knew his employer whom he had sold a dog. The villagers then followed the dog's spoor which led them to Dube's home 17km away, leading to his arrest.

Medical reports produced in court showed that the two juveniles had fresh bruises on their private parts. The trial continues tomorrow.

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