20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Doctor Testifies in NMB Manager's Sodomy Case

The trial of NMB manager accused of sodomising a 10-year-old deaf pupil from Emerald Hill School of the Deaf resumed on Monday with a Harare Hospital psychiatrist, Dr Dickson Chibanda, testifying.George Wekwete is being charged with aggravated indecent assault after he allegedly lured the pupil with food and clothes before he molested the boy.

The matter had been adjourned to Monday after the prosecution made an application to obtain a medical report from Dr Chibanda on the mental status of the 10-year-old boy. Dr Chibanda told the court that when he first attended to the boy before the allegations arose, he was a slow learner and had problems in focus and attention. He added that after working with him, the pupil progressed well. Dr Chibanda said that with time he started deteriorating and withdrawn.

"He now had symptoms of depression which he normally did not show," said Chibanda.

"He isolated himself from others, looked very disturbed and would always fall asleep. This problem worsened to an extent that he was admitted to a psychiatric unit for the first time. The report I got was that he had become isolated and was making sexual advances to other pupils at school," he said.

Dr Chibanda also said that during the boy's admission to the psychiatric ward, he continued to make sexual advances to others, a behaviour which is consistent with children who have been sexually abused.

Responding to the State's question if the boy was fit to give evidence, Dr Chibanda said that he was capable of testifying. He added that if the boy was to give evidence, the court must use the victim friendly unit.

During cross-examination by Wekwete's lawyer, Mr Admire Rubaya, Dr Chibanda said that the boy was now stable since he was under medication.

"When he is stable, he can give appreciation of things and even though he is a slow learner, that will not stop him from appreciating most things which might be helpful to the court," he said.

Magistrate Ms Fadzai Mthombeni is presiding over the trial. It is alleged that the boy first met Wekwete in July last year after sneaking out of the school premises to buy bread at Avondale Shopping Centre.

According to State papers, Wekwete took the boy to his house, where he molested him. He allegedly took the boy to the city centre after the act, where he bought him some clothes. The boy sneaked out of school on three other occasions going to Wekwete's house, it is alleged. The offence came to light after an official at Emerald Hill discovered that the boy was having difficulties in walking and was bringing food every time he sneaked out of school premises.

She took the boy to Avondale Clinic where he was referred to Family Support Clinic. At the clinic the doctor confirmed that the boy was sexually abused and a report was made and the 10-year-old led police to Wekwete's house. Mr Liberty Gono is appearing for the State.

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