The “husband” of Memory Machaya, a 14-year-old girl who died on 15 July during childbirth at a Johanne Marange Apostolic Church shrine has been arrested for having sex with a minor.
ZimLive reports that Evans Momberume is set to appear at the Mutare Magistrates Court on Thursday following his arrest in the eastern border town on Wednesday.
Memory’s death caused an outcry, with the United Nations condemning the prevalence of child marriages in Zimbabwe especially within white garment churches.
Law enforcement sources said Momberume, who had escaped police after abruptly leaving the shrine, was arrested by detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department’s Homicide Division.
If convicted of having sexual intercourse or performing indecent acts with a young person, Momberume will be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Memory was forced to drop out of school in Mhondoro while in Form 1 after she was married off to Momberume, who is believed to be in his mid-to-late-twenties.
According to Memory’s mother and aunt, she was buried inside the shrine two hours after her death, but the church’s leaders have denied this.
Memory’s mother said she was blocked from witnessing her burial and banished from the church for “causing trouble”. Investigators are still searching for her burial site.
Zimbabwe has two sets of marriage laws, the Marriage Act and Customary Marriages Act. Neither law gives a minimum age for marriage consent, while the customary law allows polygamy.
A new marriages bill that is before parliament for debate seeks to synchronise the laws, ban the marriage of anyone below 18 years and prosecute anyone involved in the marriage of a minor.
The government was blamed for “condoning” child marriages since it has for years ignored the reports.
More: Pindula News