Statutory Rape does not warrant jail terms: High Court frees 4 convicts

High Court judges Justice Erica Ndewere and Justice Owen Tagu have ruled that depending on the circumstances, statutory rape does not usually warrant a prison sentence. The two judges ordered the immediate release of four men who were serving jail terms for having sex with minors saying that the convicts were “victims of incorrect sentencing.”

Tinashe Makamba (20) had been sentenced to 18 months for bedding a 13-year-old girl, Benice Sahumbe (25) had been sentenced to 18 months for impregnating his 15-year-old girlfriend while Marshal Muchabaiwa (25) had been sentenced to 18 months for sleeping with his 15-year-old girlfriend. Farai Kapirikwete (19) was sentenced to 24 months having sex with his 15-year-old lover. The court ordered their immediate release after reducing their sentences to 1 month in jail or alternatively $200.

In their joint judgment which was delivered on May 17 although only released 2 weeks ago, Ndewere and Tagu, ruled:

The purpose of this provision is clearly to deter the vulnerability of minors from sexual abuse which, at law, they are deemed not to have capacity to consent to sexual activities. However, it is the salient facts in casu, which make me conclude that the respective learned magistrates grossly misdirected themselves on sentence. In all instances, the accused persons were in love with the complainants and the sexual intercourse was consensual in all cases.

However, having sexual intercourse with a minor remains a crime, in spite of the complainant’s willingness. But then the sentencing should be appropriate. The sentencing trends on sex with minors otherwise referred to as statutory rape have been dealt with in depth by the late (Justice Arnold) Mutema in the case of State versus Tshuma HB 70/13. From that judgment, it is apparent that non-custodial sentences are usually passed in such offences.

It is therefore correct to conclude that, depending on circumstances, statutory rape does not usually warrant a custodial sentence.

More: Daily News

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