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by Brenda Zinyuke, Court Reporter 19/08/19

A 20-YEAR-OLD man from Fort Rixon has been sentenced to seven years in prison for raping his nine-year-old neighbor. The man, whose name has been withheld to protect the identity of the minor, raped the girl during the night in a bushy area after chasing her for a distance of about 20 meters as she tried to escape from him. He pleaded not guilty to a rape charge when he appeared before Bulawayo regional magistrate, Mr Joseph Mabeza. However, the magistrate convicted and sentenced him to an effective five years in prison, after suspending two years for five years on condition that the man does not commit a similar offence within that period. Prosecuting, Ms Caroline Matanga said on February 9 this year at around 9PM the girl was sleeping in a bedroom hut with her elder brother whose age was not established when the man entered the room smoking a cigarette. She said the girl’s brother quickly ran out of the room as he tried to call out for help. Ms Matanga said the girl also tried running away but the accused person caught up with her. The prosecutor said the accused person’s father approached the girl as she was on her way home and asked her what she was doing alone at night. The juvenile told him that his son had raped and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the sexual escapade. Ms Matanga said the father told the girl’s grandmother about the rape incident and the two reported the matter to the police leading to the accused person’s arrest.