MDC-T acting national spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni, who doubles as interim party president Thokozani Khupe’s press secretary, has been acquitted of a rape charge.
Phugeni (44) appeared before Western Commonage regional magistrate Sibongile Marondedze who absolved him saying the case lacked compelling evidence.
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Prosecutors said Phugeni unlawfully had sexual intercourse with a minor, who could not be named for ethical reasons, during the period extending from June to November 2018, at Emhlangeni and in Magwegwe West, Bulawayo.
Phugeni denied the charge, saying the accusations were politically-motivated and meant to “politically soil” his image after he was nominated for Senate.
In an interview after the acquittal of Phugeni, the minor’s mother said the acquittal pained her. She said:
It’s very painful. Words alone cannot explain my hurt, anger and disappointment.
That was an unfair judgment. How can somebody rape a 14-year-old child and say it was consensual?
I will not rest till I find justice for my daughter.
People cannot abuse their positions of authority to violate our kids and women in general.
However, Phugeni’s lawyer Kholwani Ngwenya said the evidence by the complainant and her mother was unreliable and it was discredited. He said:
The evidence by the complainant and her mother was manifestly unreliable as it was discredited and could not prove a prima facie offence on a charge of rape that the accused person was facing.
He was thus found not guilty and acquitted.