A GWANDA inyanga who was recently jailed for 16 years after rap_ing and impreg_nating a 14-year-old girl under the guise of cleansing her of evil spirits, has been released by the High Court on $500 bail pending appeal.
Dumezweni Sumbani (46) of Spitzkop suburb was convicted of rap_e by Gwanda regional magistrate Mr Mark Dzira.
He was sentenced to 16 years in jail and three years were conditionally suspended for five years.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo granted Sumbani $500 bail and ordered him to reside at his given address until the matter is finalised.
The ruling follows an application for bail pending appeal by Sumbani through his lawyer Mr Abel Ndlovu of Mlweli Ndlovu and Associates, citing the State as respondent.
Sumbani has since noted an appeal at the High Court challenging his conviction and sentence.
In his bail statement, Sumbani said there were prospects of success on appeal.
“The applicant has bright chances of success on appeal combined with other relevant factors operating in his favour should he be granted bail,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Mr Ndlovu argued that his client was convicted based on manifestly unreliable evidence of State witnesses.
“In casu, it is submitted that the State witnesses’ evidence is manifestly unreliable. An analysis of the State witnesses’ evidence will reveal that there are fundamental discrepancies that boil down to the root of the matter. The first State witness in their testimony said the rap_e happened in the sitting room when she was sleeping with her sister, but according to the third witness, the complainant was rap_ed at the applicant’s bedroom and clearly this is one incident with two versions of events,” argued the lawyer.
Mr Ndlovu said the magistrate failed to appreciate that there were inconsistencies and lack of credibility in the State witnesses’ evidence.
He said the State failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“A critical analysis of the State case will reveal that even the date or day of alleged rap_e was not established with confidence. It was critical for the State to allege the date of rap_e with confidence to enable the applicant to plead his defence with sufficient clarity,” he said.
“In the instant case, one notes in the court a quo’s judgment a blind determination to religiously accept the whole story by the complainant without critically analysing her evidence.”
Sumbani said he never displayed any plans of becoming a fugitive hence he harboured no intentions of absconding if released on bail.
The State, which was represented by Mrs Sifiso Ndlovu-Sibanda did not oppose the application.
“In casu, the applicant has a fighting chance on the appeal. It is submitted that the appeal is reasonably arguable and not manifestly doomed to fail from the onset. Furthermore, given the probability of success on appeal there is objectively speaking no incentive whatsoever for the applicant to abscond,” she said.
According to papers before the court, on September 26 last year, the complainant was sleeping in the lounge nak_ed with a blanket covering her while Sumbani was in his bedroom.
Sumbani went to the lounge and woke the complainant up under the guise that he wanted to apply some medicine on her back as a way of cleansing her of evil spirits.
The accused person lowered his pair of trousers and bent behind the girl before allegedly rap_ing her. After committing the offence, Sumbani warned the girl against telling anyone about the incident.
The matter came to light in January this year when the complainant’s aunt became suspicious after she noticed changes in the girl’s physical body features.
She quizzed the complainant who revealed that she had been rap_ed.
A report was made to the police leading to Sumbani’s arrest.
Sumbani claimed that he was being framed by the complainant’s parents who fabricated the story to avoid paying a beast which they owe him for conducting a cleansing ceremony.