Sithatshisiwe Vuma, Sunday News Reporter
A pre-school owner in Bulawayo is on the run after allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl who was vending near his premises whom he lured under the pretext that he was going to pay her school fees.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said they were looking for Philemon Mabanda who owns a pre-school at Number 36 Lobengula Street corner Second Avenue in the Central Business District.
He said initially Mabanda had allegedly approached the girl pretending to be a Good Samaritan but later raped her.
He said sometime in 2018 when the victim was selling groundnuts and boiled eggs along Lobengula Street, Mabanda approached her and bought eggs. He asked her who she lived with and the girl stated she was staying with her mother.
“Suddenly, the accused person asked for the contacts of the young girl’s mother on the pretext that he wanted to assist her with school fees payment as he always donates to vulnerable children.
“The mother visited the accused person at his pre-school where he introduced himself as a donor and indicated that he was willing to help the young girl with school fees and to clear her debts at Lobengula Primary School,” said Insp Ncube.
He said an agreement was made and Mabanda paid the fess for the complainant and bought her 18 exercise books.
“In the first encounter, on an unknown date in 2018 the girl continued selling her goods along that street and Mabanda called her to his office and bought eggs.
“When the girl was about to approach the door, he held her hand forcefully and locked the door. He then pinned the girl’s hand and removed her underwear, lowered his trousers to knee level and had unprotected sexual intercourse with her.”
Insp Ncube said after the alleged act, he threatened the girl against telling anyone about the matter or he would stop paying her fees.
“He ordered her to visit his office every time when she went to her vending place if not, she would face an unknown punishment and the girl continued going there and she did not tell anyone.
“The matter came to light last month when she went home late. Her aunt asked her why she came late, she told her what had been happening in the past three years,” said the police spokesperson.
He urged members of the public to have time with children under their custody all the time ensuring their safety to prevent such incidents from happening.
“We appeal to members of the public with information that may lead to the arrest of Philemon Mabanda to contact any nearest police station,” said Insp Ncube.