The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

23 April 2008

Tanzania: Activists And Pupils March Against Abuse of Schoolgirl

Mwanza — Human rights activists, school pupils and secondary school students yesterday marched to the Nyamagana District Commissioner's Office protesting the gruesome violence committed against an 11-year old schoolgirl in Sengerema district.

The demonstrators declared that should the government fail to take heed of their outcry over the inhuman act against the schoolgirl, they would bounce back to the streets to continue with the protest.

Three employees of the Barrick Exploration Africa Limited (BEAL) mining site forced the standard-four girl from Sota Primary School situated at Igalula village, Ngoma ward, in the district to be raped by a dog on March 21.

Annicet Edward Ndege, 30, Job Murama, 30, and Shija Madata picked the schoolgirl from where she was selling buns, sent her to the Nyanzaga mineral exploration centre, undressed and forced her to be defiled by a dog for about one hour.

They finally paid the fateful girl Shs1,000. "One person of Asian decent was deported within 24 hours after he was caught using a belt belonging to the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) for tying his dog," recalled Samson Magige.

Magige said he was surprised to hear that the culprits were granted bail. "They should be denied bail and their properties should be confiscated," he demanded.

"Is the government really adhering to the legacy of the Father of the Nation,"

Paulina Metusela wondered. She recalled Mwalimu Julius Nyerere's administration deporting a foreigner in 24 hours after defiling a woman at one of the Weil Bugando Medical Centre (WBMC) premises in Mwanza.

The pupils and students told Regional Commissioner Dr James Msekela in their statement that this kind of extreme violence was denying them their freedom as stipulated in the country's constitution.

They demanded punitive measures against the culprits and the owner of the dog believed to be a foreigner pay for life long medical expenses for the girl, including continuous counseling.

"The dog involved should forthwith be shot dead," they said, asking the judiciary to deny the culprits all bail application.

MPs should consider amending the law to ensure stern punishment was meted out against perpetrators of such denigrating violence.

Kivulini, a non-governmental organization defending women's rights, said in a statement read by acting director Yusta Ntibashima that medical doctors already had hinted the possibility of the schoolgirl's reproductive health being totally impaired.

Acting Regional Commissioner Samwel Kamote said the shameful incident was not acceptable in any society in the world.

"The young girl has been physically as well as psychologically injured," he said.

Mr Kamote, the DC for Ilemela district, however, appealed to the protesters to bear with police and judiciary proceedings, as the country was organized on the basis of the rule of law.

He further cautioned that the foreigner owning the dog was yet to be implicated in the case because he was not present by the time the Barrick employees committed the offense against the schoolgirl.

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