Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations Editor
The husband of the 14-year-old girl who died while giving birth at a shrine in Marange recently, Hatirarami Momberume, has been located and arrested on charges of rape and engaging in sexual relations with a child under the age of consent, while police investigations continue against the child’s parents and others in the community.
The girl has now been positively identified as Annah Machaya, born in 2006.
The original identification as Memory Machaya came from a birth certificate allegedly preferred by the parents. But that certificate belongs to a 22-year-old woman born in 1999 who has been checked out and found to be alive and well.
The deceased girl’s parents are under probe for misleading the investigators by allegedly pretending that their late daughter was now an adult who could legally marry.
Police investigations are going further on other potential charges relating to their degree of complicity in marriage and reports that they had allegedly offered Momberume a nine-year-old girl as a replacement for Annah.
Other members of the community face investigation and charges for allegedly assisting Momberume to hide from the police, with Annah’s secret burial near the shrine about two hours after her death also likely to lead to charges.
The parents — Edmore Machaya (45) and Shy Mabika (36) — allegedly gave investigators a wrong birth certificate and that will elicit charges of attempting to defeat the course of justice. Momberume, arrested on Wednesday when police finally tracked him down, is expected to appear in court soon.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were now in possession of birth certificates for the late Annah and for Memory and have confirmed Annah was the deceased.
He confirmed the arrest of Hatirarame Momberume, alias Evans Momberume, who will be charged for rape, or alternatively, contravening section of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act that deals with sexual relations with a girl under the age of consent.
Since the girl was 14 when she fell pregnant, the ambiguity in the law of whether the age of consent is 16 or 18 will not be a factor.
The parents of the late Annah Machaya were hiding information and producing the wrong documents in a bid to hide the death of Annah.
The girl, who had been forced out of school and married off to one of the Johanne Marange apostolic sect’s members, died while giving birth at a shrine on July 15 and was allegedly buried secretly about two hours later.
Lack of cooperation from the sect community contributed to delays in finalising investigations.
Asst Comm Nyathi said the net was also closing in on those who assisted in hiding Momberume since July 15.
“I want to appeal to the church members to allow the law to take its course,” he said.