A 67-year-old man, who was being accused of raping his brother's daughter in 1999, was last Friday acquitted by a Harare magistrate due to lack of evidence. The complainant, who is now 33-years-old, was alleging that her uncle, who was 49-years-old then, raped her on the day her father was buried.
She was 14-years-old at the time. The man denied the charges when his trial opened before magistrate Mr Elijah Makomo. Through his lawyer Mr Lovemore Madhuku, he then successfully sought to be discharged at the close of the State's case.
In her evidence during trial, the victim told the court that she did not have her family's support to take the matter further, but only reported to the police after listening to a radio show which encouraged rape victims to report such cases.
She told the court that the matter was swept under the carpet by her family then. In his ruling, Mr Makomo said the way the complainant would change her story during cross-examination made the court doubt her testimony.
He also said that the medical report, which was tendered by the State, did not show any evidence, hence the court could not rely on it.
"We cannot go to the defence case to buttress the State's case," said Mr Makomo.
"The State failed to prove its case. The State should have called more witnesses to corroborate the complainant's testimony because it was her word against that of the accused.
"She was medically examined this year when she was already sexually active and is now a mother, hence there is no evidence to rely on the medical affidavit."
The man, in his defence outline, said the charges levelled against him were malicious, saying that his family members were fixing him after he refused to participate in some traditional rituals which they were conducting.
"This rape allegation arose as part of the strategy by members of his family to force him to participate in the aforesaid witchcraft rituals," said Mr Madhuku.
"The whole strategy was either he participate or will be accused of rape.
"It is impossible for him to contemplate a scenario of a sexual relationship between him and the complainant whom in the African custom is his daughter."
Mr Madhuku also questioned why it took the alleged victim too long to report the matter to the police.
It was alleged that sometime in August 1999 the accused raped his niece while she was preparing tea for him.