A FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD girl from Gwanda was brutally assaulted to death by her 31-year-old “husband” who accused her of infidelity, bringing to the fore the thorny issue of child marriages that continues to rear its ugly head.
Child marriages, child s_3xual exploitation and teenage preg_nancies remain a major concern in the country.
According to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC), nearly 34 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married countrywide.
Child marriage is a violation of human rights and the ZGC is concerned about the surge in the practice as well as the exploitation of young women and girls.
The Zimbabwe Statistics Agency indicates that 33,7 percent of girls under 18 are married, which means that one in three girls under 18 are married.
The girl, from Masekesa Village under Chief Gampu, is the youngest known expecting mum in Zimbabwe’s history.
In the latest case, the slain girl, Silindokuhle Sibanda stayed with her “husband” Thandazani Ncube at his parents’ homestead in Singukwe area.
She had left her home where she stayed with her father who is visually impaired and her brother’s wife.
Ncube severely assaulted the teenager in the middle of the night while they were on their way home after attending a party in their locality.
After the brutal attack, Ncube carried the girl home in a wheel barrow and placed her on their bed. The following morning the girl was pronounced dead.
Ncube yesterday appeared before Gwanda magistrate, Mrs Polite Ncube Banda facing a murder charge. He was remanded in custody to November 21.
The prosecutor, Mr Ngonidzashe Shumba, said: “On 5 November at around 11PM Thandazani Ncube struck Silindokuhle Sibanda on the back of her head using an unknown object following an altercation. Ncube was accusing the girl of infidelity,” he said.
“Silindokuhle succumbed to the head injuries the following day at around 4AM.”
Earlier, Ncube’s mother, Mrs Sibongile Ncube, told a Chronicle newscrew that her son and Silindokuhle had gone to a party at a nearby homestead.
She said in the middle of the night she heard the sound of a wheel barrow being pushed out of the yard.
Mrs Ncube said a few minutes later her son came rushing and informed her that his “wife” had a headache.
“I went back to sleep and assumed that Silindokuhle would be fine in the morning since it was just a headache. I assumed that she had probably partied a lot,” she said.
When Mrs Ncube went to check on her “daughter-in-law” the following morning, she found the girl lying on her bed covered in blood soaked blankets.
“My son was also there in the same room and he told me that he was trying to discipline her for cheating on him with another man.
Upon checking Silindokuhle, I discovered that she was already dead,” she said.
Mrs Ncube said she immediately alerted neighbours who came to the homestead. Community members apprehended her son and escorted him to a police base in Stanmore leading to his arrest.
Government recently enacted the Marriages Act No.1 of 2022, which, among its provisions, criminalises child marriages.
The Marriages Act was passed by Parliament and signed into law by President Mnangagwa in March. According to the Act, no person under the age of 18 years may contract a marriage or enter into an unregistered customary law marriage or a civil partnership.
The issue of child marriages came under the spotlight last year following the death of 14-year-old Anna Machaya at a Johanne Masowe Apostolic sect shrine in Marange.
Hatirarame Momberume (26) was subsequently arrested for engaging in sexual acts with a minor and murder, while the late Anna’s parents, Edmore Machaya and Shy Mabika were charged with obstruction of justice.
The parents are alleged to have pledged their nine-year-old daughter to Momberume.