NGO employee acquitted of raping dumb, deaf girl

MASVINGO - A civil society worker who was facing charges of raping a deaf and dumb teenage girl at a local lodge was last week acquitted after the magistrate said the two had consensual sex.

Jacob Tivenga, 48, an employee of a Harare-based HIV/Aids non-governmental organisation (NGO), Thamaso, was facing two counts of raping a deaf and dumb 18-year-old King George College student for the disabled.

Masvingo regional magistrate Esther Muremba acquitted him due to lack of incriminating evidence.

She said the schoolgirl could have lied that she was raped to save face after it was discovered that she had slept with an elderly person.

“Despite age difference, age of consent in sexual matters is 16 years, irrespective of whether one is deaf and dumb. Complainant is not mentally retarded and can communicate well despite her disabilities.

“Her actions point towards consent but she must have been embarrassed to admit that she had sex with an elderly man,” Muremba said.

Prosecutor Rodrick Chipembere had told the court that on January 9, this year, Tivenga went with the girl to Mudota Downtown Lodges in the city after she had arrived from Gweru.

The State also heard that on arrival at the lodge, Tivenga allegedly booked a room and lured the girl inside.

The staff alerted the police who arrested Tivenga and discovered the girl was deaf and dumb when they interrogated her.

In defence, Tivenga said they had consented to sex and had bought the girl clothes, a pant and a towel and also discussed about sex before the girl insisted they should use protection.

He said that is when he went to the lodge reception to look for condoms but was referred to a nearby pub as they had run out of stock.

He said the following morning, he was surprised to see cops knocking at his room saying they wanted to verify the age of the girl.

He said the girl talked to a female cop from the police’s victim friendly unit while he was away and believes she could not own up to the act and lied that she had been raped out of embarrassment. - Godfrey Mtimba

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