By Zimbabwe Voice Reporter
STATE prosecutors have been accused of compromising the late Anna Machaya’s case by going for a hard-to-prove charge of murder instead of sticking to a provable statutory rape charge.
Lawyers say Anna’s ‘husband’, 26-year-old Hatirarami Momberume, could soon walk out free as a result of this decision by State prosecutors, thereby denying justice not only to Anna but to all victims of child marriages.
Momberume allegedly impregnated the 14 year old Anna who died on 15 July while giving birth at a church shrine in Marange. He appeared before Mutare magistrate Lucy Mungwari yesterday charged with murder.
Momberume is also facing charges of having a sexual relationship with a minor after he impregnated the girl. But it is the murder charge that has created a storm, with lawyers saying the State prosecutors were showing “shocking levels of incompetence”.
The State led by prosecutor Tirivanhu Mutyasira alleges that Momberume caused the death of the minor by failing to take her to a specialist, saying as an adult he knew there was real risk of complications considering her age.
A top Harare lawyer told Zimbabwe Voice on Friday that the State had shown gross incompetence on this matter and that Anna may never get the justice she and all other girl brides deserve.
“The facts of this case will fall short in as far as fulfilling all elements of murder, and surely prosecution knows this. Once you charge an accused with a wrong charge, then the whole case fall off,” says the lawyer, who preferred not to be named, for professional reasons.
“This (Momberume) man did not murder Anna; he raped her. He slept with a minor. For a whole prosecution to then push for murder in the circumstances means that they are compromising Anna’s case.”
A Gweru-based lawyer also raised the same sentiment, saying she was shocked and dismayed to learn that the State had preferred a murder charge.
“State lawyers must stop wasting time and charge the guy on real charges he contravened, which is Statutory Rape. Murder charge in this case is a waste of time, and the Momberume guy will soon walk back home scot-free.
“The State prosecution must drop all the charges and concentrate on that one water tight one. We need to set the example straight on this case, but at the end of the day, the State has made justice for Anna difficult to attain,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mutare magistrate Lucy Mungwari remanded Momberume in custody to the 9th of September.