HARARE – Two Harare men have appeared in court accused of robbing and raping three women at gunpoint.
Frank Mafati, 26, of Hopley and Tinashe Maruta, 21, of Hopley Zone 1, pleaded guilty to two of the three counts when they appeared in court last Saturday, but a magistrate said they should reappear on Wednesday for the noting of their unexpected pleas as the prosecution was unprepared.
At their arraignment, the two men raised complaints against police detectives who allegedly shot them while demanding that they turn over a second gun they used in the commission of the crimes. Mafati and Maruta told magistrate Letwin Rwodzi they only had one firearm.
Vimbiso Rundare, prosecuting, told the court that at around 7.30PM on January 24, the first victim – a 20-year-old woman – disembarked from a kombi in Whitecliff Farm under Zvimba district and immediately sought a shed at a bus stop because it was raining. Mafati and Maruta were allegedly standing near a tuckshop close to the bus stop.
The victim, the court heard,asked for plastic paper from the two men to protect her phone from the rain. After about 30 minutes, she started walking home but noticed that the two men were following her.
They allegedly produced two guns and forced her into a maize field nearby where they took turns to rape her without protection. They also allegedly robbed her of US$20 cash and an Itel P38 phone.
Five days later, on January 29, a 44-year-old man from Glaudina in Harare drove his 19-year-old girlfriend from Kuwadzana 6 to a secluded area on the road to Lake Chivero.
The two lovers were in the back seat of a Toyota Hilux when, at about 11AM, three men wearing face masks approached and knocked on the vehicle’s windows. When the victims refused to open, the trio forced their way in by smashing the driver’s side front window.
Rundare alleged that the three men demanded cash and valuables. One of the attackers who was armed with a pistol shot the 44-year-old man on the thigh.
The prosecution says the young woman was dragged into the bush and raped by one of the assailants who returned to the vehicle. One of the attackers who had been left guarding the vehicle then took his turn to rape the woman.
The two victims were left with their hands tied as the assailants vanished into the woods after grabbing two mobile phones and US$120 in cash.
The victims managed to untie themselves and the woman ran to a nearby road where she found a man who could drive. He drove the two to ZRP Marimba where they filed a report.
On February 7, at about 8PM, the prosecution said a 79-year-old man was walking home to Whitecliff South under Zvimba with his 23-year-old wife when they were confronted by two men wearing face masks and wielding a machete and a pistol near Pfugari Shopping Centre.
The two victims were ordered to lie on the ground and take off their clothes. They were then force-marched to an unoccupied housing stand with a precast wall where the two attackers took turns to rape the woman.
The victims were robbed of clothing items and two mobile phones. They later reported their ordeal to ZRP Marimba.
Police detectives caught a break in the investigation after one of the stolen phones was found to be making a string of calls to a number later established to be that of 34-year-old Sithabile Mbambo, who is Mafati’s wife.
She was arrested and interviewed before leading investigators to her home where police found Mafati and his co-accused Maruta.
The two alleged rapists were shot while fleeing detectives, according to the prosecution. Mafati was shot on the left leg and Maruta on both legs.
Police recovered several phones and a machete. Mafati and Maruta also led detectives to Mahusekwa turn-off along Beatrice road where a pistol without serial numbers and 31x9mm live rounds were recovered.
The two men are only prepared to plead guilty to counts one and three for crimes committed in Whitecliff.