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Tiny Tots teacher, a rape convict

Business

Mohloai Mpesi

Tawana Muradzikwa a Tiny Tots teacher embroiled in sexual allegations at the school is a convicted paedophile, Newsday has learnt.

The Zimbabwean born teacher, infamous for fondling under age pupils of his school, as Tiny Tots English Primary then was, last year was convicted for sexually assaulting two minors aged 13 and 14 years in his home country whence he was slapped with a 20-year jail term.

Muradzikwa was convicted by the by the High Court of Zimbabwe after being found guilty of forcing himself onto 14-year old girls attending school at Nyamusanga Primary School, Buhera, in 2013.

However, the sentence was subsequently quashed to four years after appeal.

The findings put into question Tiny Tots’ background checks exploits if the paedophile came to Lesotho and found employment in arguably one of the country’s best schools.

Muradzikwa allegedly fondled an undisclosed number of pupils at the school although it was the particular one involving a young girl who eventually left the school that put him and his acts in the spotlight.

The so-called teacher’s sexual perverted exploits may actually have been unfolding in open view of all, as evidenced by accounts of some of the parents who, in hindsight recall that Muradzikwa was in the habit of making them and their daughters uncomfortable through such things as calling them “bo my wife” openly.

Since the school is known for covering up unbecoming behaviours by its teachers, it is unlikely that it was happening unknown by the school authorities.

Following the breaking of the fondling story on national TV, the principal of Tiny Tots wrote to the parents two days after he bowed to pressure and resigned his post as teacher. In the letter seen by this paper, the principal thanks the parents for their restraint and putting their confidence in the system of justice.

Meanwhile, according to the High Court of Zimbabwe verdict read by Judge Chatukuta and Mangota J in Harare on March 25, 2015, Muradzikwa raped two girls on two different occasions, after taking advantage of the strong relationships existing between him and the girls’ family.

“The appellant pleaded not guilty to, but was convicted after trial for, two counts of rape as defined in section 65 of the Criminal Law (codification and reforms) Act (Chapter 9: 23. He was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, two years which were suspended for five years on condition of future good conduct.

“The state allegations were that on dates to the prosecutor unknown but during the period which extended from 1-30 April, and at or about Nyamusanga Primary School, Buhera he, on different occasions, did have forcible carnal knowledge of one H and one I. H and I were respectively 14 and 13 years of age at the time of the alleged offence,” the verdict reads.

“The appellant appealed against the conviction and sentence. His grounds of appeal were, in the main, that the state did not establish his guilt in respect of both counts beyond reasonable doubt and that the evidence of the complainants was not consistent with that of persons who had been raped. He stated that the trial court ignored his defence. He submitted that the sentence which was imposed was not only harsh and too severe but it also induced a sense of shock and disbelief.

“The respondent agreed with the appellant that the latter was erroneously convicted of rape. It stated that the evidence of the complainants and other witnesses for the prosecution did not have support the crime of rape. It said the complainants’ conduct was on all fours with that of persons who had had consensual sexual intercourse with the appellant. It moved the court to convict the appellant of contravening section 70 of the Criminal Law (codification and reforms) Act.

“The appellant’s grounds of appeal related to the crime of rape which he stood convicted of. The court is satisfied that the court a quo misdirected itself when it convicted the appellant on two counts of rape. That conviction was not supported by evidence and was, therefore, unsafe.

The verdict continued that, “H and I stated in clear categorical terms that the appellant carnally knew them in April 2013. H’s testimony was that, on a certain day during April 2013 school holiday, the appellant whom she described as having been a very close friend of her father, approached and requested her to bring a CD to him. It was when she brought a CD to his house that the appellant allegedly carnally knew her. I stated that, on a certain Saturday in April 2013 and when she was on her way home from the barber’s shop where she had gone for a haircut, the appellant met her by the river and indicated to her that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her.

“She said he held her hand, pulled her off the road, laid her on the ground, removed her pair of pants, lowered his trouser to knee level and had sexual intercourse with her. She stated that on the evening of the following day, she went to the fireplace where she had been baking bread and she found the appellant waiting for her at the fireplace. She said he told her that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her. It was her testimony that he leaned her against the wall and had carnal knowledge of her for the second time.

“H and I were adamant that the appellant did have carnal knowledge of them. The medical reports which the state produced corroborated the two girls’ stories on the aspects of sexual intercourse having taken place in respect of each one of them. The girls corroborated each other’s stories on the point that the appellant gave to each of them some tablets which he asked her to take after sexual act. Each one of them said she took and drank the tablets although the appellant did not reveal the purpose of taking them.

“H stated that there were occasions when the appellant would introduce her to his friends as his lover. I’s testimony was that the appellant did have sexual intercourse with H and her. Both girls denied that they were fabricating stories with a view of incriminating him.

“Evidence filed of record showed that the appellant and the complainants’ family were very close. The girls stated that the friendship was so close that their father would, on occasions, leave the appellant in charge of them when he left home to visit their mother who was working at a different school,” the verdict reads.

“The appellant confirmed the good relationship which existed between the two families. His submissions which were to the effects that the complaints’ were influenced to fabricate allegations against him cannot hold. The girls, in the court’s view, made every effort to conceal what he had done, they as he stated in one his grounds of appeal, withheld information about sexual acts from their parents or guardians, friends and teachers and other people they would have been expected to open up to. The fact that the sexual act which took place in April 2013 only came to light in September 2013 and when the girls had been coerced to make reports showed in a conclusive manner that the complaints’ didn’t want to expose but to protect the appellant.

“The appellant insinuated that there was bad blood between the father or guardian of the complaints’ and him. T, who was H’s father and I’s brother gave testimony and, during the cross examination, the alleged bad blood and its cause were not put to him. It is the court’s view that the appellant made up the story pertaining to the alleged bad blood as a way of extricating himself from the charge.

 â€œThe court is satisfied that the appellant did have knowledge of the complaints’ who were 13 and 14 of age at that time, he, accordingly, stands convicted of two counts of having had unlawful extra marital sexual intercourse with young persons as defined in section 70 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

“The appellant’s changed circumstances as regards conviction do have a ripple, but advantageous, effect on the sentence which must be imposed upon him. The applicant had consensual sexual intercourse with two minor girls. Both of them were attending school at the time at the time of the offences. The applicant must consider himself fortunate that the state did not prefer two counts but one count of the offence against him in respect of Diana. He carnally knew her on two separate occasions.

“The appellant took advantage of the close relationship which existed between the complaints’ family and him. He proceeded that lead the girls from the pads of virtue into that of vice. His counsel conceded that a custodial sentence was warranted. The concession was proper, in his favour, the court remain alive to the fact that the appellant most likely lost his employment as a result of unbridled sexual conduct.

“He is young, first offender with family responsibilities. The court will, therefore, temper justice with some measure of mercy. It will fairly suspend the large portion of the sentence so that it will act as deterrence on him in his future conduct. It is, in the result, ordered as follows.

“The conviction of the appellant on two counts of rape be and hereby quashed. The appellant be and is hereby convicted on two counts of contravening section 70 (1) (a) of Criminal Law Codification and Reforms (chapter 9:23). The imprisonment of 20 years which was imposed on the appellant be and hereby and is here set aside and hereby substituted with the following; (both counts as one) 48 months imprisonment of which 12 months of imprisonment are suspended for five years on the condition that the appellant does not, within that period.              

Meanwhile, approached for a comment on how the school does its recruiting of teachers as well as on the fondling incident, Tiny Tots has on numerous occasions declined to comment, choosing rather to say it would hold a press briefing when the time is right

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