POLICE in Plumtree have launched a manhunt for two rape suspects who escaped while being escorted to a police station in Mangwe District.

The suspects, Khaliphani Nleya (22) and his 17-year-old younger brother, are reported to have sexually abused a five-year-old girl on several occasions. The matter came to light after the child who is a Grade Zero pupil at Matshamhlophe Primary School reported the matter to her teacher.

The councillor of the area, Mr Walter Mpofu, said Nleya and his brother were arrested recently and escaped while on their way to Mayobodo Police Station.

"The suspects were arrested after a report was made by the gril’s grandmother and school authorities. The police who were escorting them to Mayobodo Police Station passed through Mambale Business Centre and the suspects took the chance to escape," said Mr Mpofu.

Mr Phonet Magondo Nleya, who is also the acting village head of the area, said the girl was referred to Bulawayo for treatment.

"She stays with her grandmother and it appears that they raped her several times. We took her to the clinic where they told us that she could have contracted an STI as she had a rash on her genital area. She was referred to Brunapeg Hospital and later to Bulawayo for tests and treatment," said Mr Nleya.

A source at Matshamhlophe Primary School said they realised that something was wrong with the child after being absent from school for a week.

"The child missed lessons for almost a week and her teacher decided to check on her. She discovered that the child had some genital problems. It was after the persuasion of school authorities that her grandmother finally took her to the clinic. It appears that her grandmother was aware that her daughter had a genital problem but she ignored the whole issue and remained quiet," said the source.

She said the police later came to the school and reported that the child had been abused sexually.

The National House of Assembly Member for Mangwe, Obedingwa Mguni said he had received a report on the issue from school authorities. He said police had to ensure that the culprits were arrested and brought to book.

Officer commanding Bulilima-Mangwe District, Chief Superintendent Macdonald Samuriwo said they were looking for the suspects.


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