Pressure is mounting on authorities to bring to justice leaders of an Apostolic sect where a 14-year-old girl died during childbirth last week in Bocha, Marange in Manicaland Province, sparking public outrage.
The pregnant girl, identified as Memory Machaya, was allegedly denied hospital assistance by members of the apostolic sect.
The church members reportedly resorted to prayers and kept the teenager at the shrine until she died due to complications.
However, to date, no official police report has been made on the matter despite the wide publicity of the incident.
Africa Union (AU) goodwill ambassador for ending child marriage Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda challenged law enforcement agents to bring the “criminals” who include the church leaders and the man who impregnated her to book. Said Gumbonzvanda:
This child has a name, family, community, and a government. Her death has created outrage. This child was raped, yet the focus is on the pregnancy and not the gross inhumane violation of her body and her person.
The political will to act is slow or inadequate. Many days later, we are telling the story of her death.
When the story became known, I expected the police to take a strong position, together with the relevant ministries working to end child marriages.
Gumbonzvanda queried why the white garment churches are seemingly above the law. She said:
They break many laws and nothing happens to them. They are known, their leadership and their structures.
Why do they seem untouchable? They render all the systems, policies and structures irrelevant.
Sethulo Ncube from the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association said it was a criminal offence to sleep with a minor.
She said the Domestic Violence Act looks at child marriages as a form of domestic violence and whoever impregnated the girl should be arrested and prosecuted.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi told NewsDay that he was still to get the full report on the matter.