Public Consultations on minimum mandatory sentences for sexual crimes rolled out in Bulawayo

Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) took part in the Public Consultation on the minimum mandatory sentencing on rape and other sexual offenses, that was held at the Pelandaba Youth Center. Attending the consultations were Members of Parliament, representatives from media, CSOs and the general public.

After receiving a petition on this issue, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Community, and SMEs and resolved to conduct public consultations. These were aimed at gathering the views of the public regarding the introduction of the minimum mandatory sentence on rape and other sexual offenses.

Chairing the meeting was Luveve Member of Parliament, Honourable Stella Ndlovu, who gave a brief background on the consultations as well as the objectives.

“The aim of these consultations is to come up with a specific minimum mandatory sentence for rape and other sexual misconducts, as it has been discovered that there is no clear sentence for sexual perpetrators whilst there are specific sentences for all the other crimes,” explained Honourable Ndlovu.

Khethiwe Tshuma, a young woman in attendance submitted that the minimum mandatory sentence should be 30 years, considering the physical, emotional and mental damage inflicted on the victims by the perpetrators.

Patricia Tshabalala who was also in attendance concurred with 30 years being the mandatory sentence for rape but she also submitted that perpetrators of sexual offenses against children, elderly people, and PWDs should be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Making his submissions during the consultations, Dumisani Mpofu from Pumula was in agreement with 30 years being the minimum mandatory sentence but highlighted the need for thorough investigations on each case.

 “There is a need for different approaches on a case-by-case basis as there has been a rise in cases whereby two people consent to sexual activity but later on one of them alleges that they have been raped thereby leaving the other person at a disadvantage. Thorough investigations should be done before conviction to safeguard all the involved parties,” submitted Mpofu.

Gloria Mthethwa a woman from Pumula who was also in attendance concurred with the 30 years sentence and went on to recommend that perpetrators of sexual offenses should not be entitled to presidential pardons considering the psychological effects of sexual crimes.

In conclusion, a representative from the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) conceded that there should be separate courts for cases on sexual crimes so that these cases can be attended to with the urgency that they deserve.

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