Rights group bemoans sentence given to child molester

HUMAN rights activists have decried the light sentence given to a child molester, saying it sent wrong signals that sex offenders can go scot-free.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) was not impressed with a 310-hour community service sentence given to 19-year-old Edmore Sibanda, who impregnated a 14-year-old girl.

Victoria Falls magistrate, Rangarirai Gakanje, in her ruling last week, said Sibanda will do the community service at Baobab Primary School.

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MIHR, however, said the sentence was not deterrent enough warning the community service would expose Baobab pupils to abuse by Sibanda.

“We feel very strongly that the magistrate erred in sending Sibanda to a primary school considering he has committed an offence of indulging sexually with a minor and the primary school is a habitant for minors, of which some of them, especially Grades 6s and 7s are at the age of 13 to 14 years like Sibanda’s victim and have reached puberty stage and may be prey to Sibanda’s sexual desires.

“While acknowledging Sibanda did not forcible rape the complainant in this case, but he proposed to her (and in this case the complainant is not at the age of making informed decisions and thus could have been cheated into the relationship by Sibanda), he (Sibanda) is capable of identifying another unsuspecting girl again in this primary school and cheat her into a sexual relationship with,” MIHR said.

“It is, therefore, in that light that we call on the magistrate to uphold the interest of the children at Baobab Primary School, protect their rights, especially the right to personal security as enshrined in section 52 of the Constitution, by removing Sibanda from Baobab Primary School and placing him somewhere else.”

The activists urged the High Court to be the “upper guardian” of the protection of the rights of the children and instruct the Victoria Falls Magistrate to send Sibanda to some other place not a school.

“Furthermore, we call on the Judicial Services Commission to weigh in on the matter and especially on the broad issue of community service at schools, as we have noted with great concern the tendency by magistrates to send sex offenders and people charged with criminal sexual crimes to do community service in schools,” MIHR said.

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