A former employee at the Registrar-General office, who in 2017 was sentenced to 16 years for rap_ing a heavily preg_nant woman, has been acquitted of charges.
Tongai Hungwe, 41, was convicted of rap_ing the woman in a secured room at Makombe Building in exchange for her identification documents.
Hungwe, who was charged with rap_e and criminal abuse of duty as a public officer, had approached the High Court on appeal against Harare magistrate Lucy Mungwari’s sentence.
He was acquitted of the criminal abuse of office charge.
He had pleaded not guilty for rap_e and in his defence told the court that the woman was bitter since he had impounded her documents after noticing that they were issued beyond the mandatory 42 days period.
In his finding, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda said there was no chance that Hungwe committed the offence given the hive of activity at the Registrar’s Office.
“The complainant had the opportunity to report to any of the several officials who work at Makombe Building having been at the offices from 9am to 3pm.
“It is a notorious fact that the Registrar’s Office is always a hive of activity. She also had the opportunity to report at the Harare Central Police Station before boarding a taxi home.
“The trial court did not address its mind to the issues raised by the delayed report,” ruled the judge.
Added Justice Kwenda:
“The complainant’s assertion that the appellant had demanded se_xual intercourse or rap_ed her in exchange for the documents had been proved to be false.
“She had falsely testified that after rap_ing her he opened the door, allowed her to take the documents and leave after detaining her the whole day to achieve that.
“The trial court ought therefore to have gave the appellant the benefit of the doubt.”
Prosecution had it that sometime in February, 2017, Hungwe met the complainant in his office after being referred by another official for verification of her birth certificate.
The court heard Hungwe told the complainant to leave her national identity card and her birth certificate for verification and asked her to bring her mother the following day.
Upon her returning, the complainant visited Hungwe’s office to collect her national identity card and her birth certificate so she could go and register her preg_nancy.
However, Hungwe delayed the complainant and at around 3pm, he ordered her to follow him to another room and at the time, he had the woman’s particulars.
When they got to the said room, he ordered the complainant to sit on a chair, and he locked the door and told her he wanted to have se_xual intercourse with her.
The complainant claimed that, Hungwe pushed her to the floor and rap_ed her once.