Rape convict freed on bail

HARARE - High Court judge Loice Matanda-Moyo has freed on $200 bail, a Chinhoyi man who was serving 14 years in prison for rape.

She ruled that he had high prospects of success on appeal.

The 26-year-old Hazvinei Mahlahla got the reprieve yesterday after raising issues with the magistrate’s decision to convict him.

This followed charges that he raped his 21-year-old neighbour.

Mahlahla is appealing against Chinhoyi regional magistrate Never Katiyo’s ruling.

Katiyo sentenced Mahlahla to 14 years in prison with hard labour, while two years were suspended on condition of good behaviour.

Mahlahla took his freedom bid to the High Court, claiming he had prospects of success on appeal. He said the magistrate erred in relying upon the complainant’s evidence, which he claimed was not only incredible but false.

Prosecutor Innocent Muchini opposed the application, arguing that Mahlahla had no prospects of success on appeal. He said the lengthy custodial sentence was an inducement for Mahlahla to skip trial if freed on bail pending appeal.

Matanda-Moyo ruled in favour of Mahlahla.

The accused was serving the jail term following claims that he raped the complainant in September last year.

The court heard that the incident took place after the complainant visited Mahlahla’s house, intending to borrow some glue to repair a scotch cart.

When the woman entered the house, the State claims Mahlahla grabbed her by the waist and started kissing her.

Mahlahla’s friend visited and suddenly knocked at the door, but was not allowed inside the house.

He left and Mahlahla locked the door, and raped the woman, the court heard.

The offence came to light after the woman told her mother about the rape, leading to Mahlahla’s arrest.

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