Anger as shop owner accused of rape

Residents picketed outside Harare police station.

The family of a 16-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by a Somali shop owner, is still battling to come to terms with the tragedy.

The girl, who has Down’s syndrome and is from Kuyasa, was allegedly raped on Saturday May 20.

The incident caused an outrage in the community, with angry residents turning on the shop owner, looting and ultimately destroying his store.

It is alleged the suspect lured the girl to his shop with a lollipop.

He has since been arrested, and was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday May 23.

In an interview with Vukani, the distraught mother, whose name is known to Vukani, but is being withheld to protect her daughter’s identity, struggled to control her emotions.

Scratching her head and wringing her hands, she said it was difficult for her daughter to interact with other children, and hard for her to talk about the incident. She said the pain endured by her daughter and the entire family was unbearable.

“She is traumatised by the incident. She is always indoors,” she told Vukani.

The woman said her daughter had informed a neighbour, who then informed her about the incident.

“She told my neighbour how she was undressed by the man,” she said.

The girl was then taken to the shop to identify the suspect.

“But we now pray and hope that the law will take its course,” she said.

Harare police station spokesman Captain Siyabulela Vukubi confirmed the 25-year-old man had been arrested and charged with rape.

But he strongly condemned the destruction of property and looting of the store, advising residents not to take the law into their own hands, especially when the culprit had been arrested.

Ntombi Madlala, area committee member, condemned the act of vandalism and called on residents to give the law time to run its course.

She said as residents they were concerned about rape incidents in the area.

“This is the third rape in a space of six months. This is a huge cause for concern. But we are calling on residents not to take the law into their own hands. It was unfortunate that they reacted so badly on the day. We condemned looting and vandalism,” she said.

Ms Madlala called on residents to protest outside court when the accused made his appearance to ensure he was denied bail.

Angry residents marched to the Harare police station on Monday, saying they wanted police to know that they were opposed to rape.

They also said they did not want to see the man in Kuyasa again.