A BULAWAYO woman left two children at home aged two and four years on a daily basis to survive on mulberries while she went to sell vegetables.
This was heard when Sakhile Masuku (40) of Kingsdale appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Evelyn Mashavakure last Wednesday facing charges of leaving infants unattended as defined in Section 7(2) (e) of the Children’s Act Chapter 5:06.
Masuku — who is the infants’ aunt — denied the charge, but was convicted after a full trial and sentenced to six months.
However, two months of the sentence were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour and the remaining four months were suspended on condition that she performs 140 hours of community service at Luveve Police Station starting today.
State witness Senzeni Chidziyu of Kingsdale, who is also a social worker, told the court that she would sometimes feed the children when Masuku left them at home alone.
Chidziyu, who shared the same house with Masuku, said she had warned her on several occasions that she would report her to the police if she continued neglecting and abandoning the kids.
She eventually reported Masuku after she had failed to heed her warning.
Another State witness Josiah Timu told the court that he had met the two children one day at 6am and when he asked where they were going, they told him they were going to eat mulberries at the nearby tree.
“I gave them bread and told them not to go close to the road,” he said.
“The previous day I had seen them again with some police officers who also said they had found them at the mulberry tree.”
Policewoman Edith Senyere, who investigated the case, said she was told that the children were being neglected.
Senyere said she discovered that Masuku would leave the kids with her son, who could also leave them alone with no food when he went to school.
‘The children were complaining of hunger and given their age they needed someone to attend to them all the time,” said Senyere.
In her defence Masuku said she would leave them with her daughter, who only left them when going to buy some relish, and would find Chidziyu having taken them on her return.
Masuku said she had been taking care of the children for more than two years since their mother abandoned them and went to South Africa.
She said their father’s relatives had also said they could not take care of the kids.
In sentencing her, the magistrate said the State had managed to prove that she neglected the children and exposed them to danger.
“It is clear that the children were left unattended. It is also surprising how you left the children with your husband as you told this court that you do not stay together.
“The evidence you brought to this court must be treated with caution and therefore the court finds you guilty,” Mashavakure said.