Monday, 6 September 2021


FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday took her Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme to Gokwe where she heard worrying reports of rape cases that are being perpetrated against juveniles in the area.

Amai Mnangagwa visited the area following an invitation by Chief Njelele’s wife Mrs Virginia Njelele.

In one of the cases, a woman is under investigation for allegedly forcing her 14-year-old niece to marry a 37-year-old villager who regularly bashes the juvenile demanding back a beast he paid as part of lobola.

The young girl is now pregnant, amid reports that the husband, who has a history of “hiring and firing” women, has to date sent three other women packing. The girl gathered courage and reported the matter to the chief’s wife who in turn took her to the police.

This comes at a time when the area is also seized with the case of two sisters aged four and six who were reportedly raped by an 18-year-old relative.

In a separate case, a 15-year-old girl, who is three-months pregnant, walked 62 kilometres to the chief’s homestead after being gang-raped by four of her husband’s relatives and the chief referred the matter to the police where it is now being handled.

Mrs Njelele said the First Lady’s eye-opening Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme had resulted in girls and boys knowing their rights and they were now reporting various cases of abuse perpetrated against them.

She decried the surge in child marriages and juvenile delinquency in her community, adding that if it wasn’t for the First Lady’s programme, most of the criminal cases perpetrated against juveniles would have gone unreported.

“As chiefs’ wives we were taught a lot by our mother, the First Lady, from manners and how to live with others in communities,” said Mrs Njelele.

“Amai went across all provinces teaching young people on the importance of respecting our values and culture.

“As part of her teachings, she also encouraged the girl child to value her body and report any forms of abuse perpetrated against her to the community leaders or the police. As the First Lady’s ambassador, I saw the need to take her teachings further to our communities so that every child benefits.

“Here in Gokwe South, we took what we learnt to the headmen’s wives and we are working together in our wards teaching our children. Following the teachings through Amai’s vision, the children who are being abused, both boys and girls, are now coming out in the open. Today we have invited the First Lady to come and see what we are doing in our community.”

Chief Njelele, Mr Misheck Moses Njelele, said they invited the First Lady to ensure his community benefited from her life-changing teachings. “Our aim for inviting her here is to reinvigorate our culture and manners in Gokwe,” he said.

“We want the girl child to know her rights by the time she becomes a mother and the same applies to boys. The biggest challenge we have is that at our courts there are cases involving young girls who are being divorced at 17 and you shudder to think at what age they got married. “The children will tell you they would have spent two years in marriage which means they would have started married lives at a tender age. During the Covid-19 induced lockdown, many girls were impregnated and dropped out of school.

“Boys are causing these problems. As chiefs, I think we should be allowed to punish parents who are not teaching their children good manners

“Our boys are now drunkards at a tender age and some of them put on seven trousers at once and you can’t make head or tail of their behaviour. It is my wish as a chief that children, especially boys, must know cultural norms and values of respecting elders and respecting the girl child.”

In the Nhanga with the girls was the First Lady, chiefs’ wives and elderly women. The girls were warned against bottling up and to speak out when distressed.

Amai Mnangagwa said preserving morals helped girls maintain dignity. “I am thankful for being invited to help counsel our children,” she said.

“Your manners as a girl shows the status of your mother. Good behaviour spawns respect through good deeds. If you misbehave you embarrass us as your mothers. You should not sleep with boys. Do you know that your bodies are precious and we want you to value them and education. I heard that some of you are carrying clothes in your satchels purporting that you are going to school when you are not.” 

The girls were encouraged to grow up as God-fearing people with the pastor’s wife, Mrs Susan Hohodza, spelling out the need for children to have a relationship with God. 

“A girl must grow up fearing God,” she said.

  “Your body is a temple of God and it is important to value your bodies. What is affecting children today is money and lust. Because a friend has nice clothes you start looking for sugar daddies to buy for you the same clothes.

 “At that point, your life will be ruined. Virginity must be preserved and we will be happy attending your weddings.”

 Mrs Juliet Masvanya, wife to Chief Jiri, likened the girls to gold and implored them to rate themselves highly. 

She urged them not to make themselves “cheap like an avocado pear on the market” which is felt by every customer. 

The girls were also taught menstrual hygiene and advised to bath in the morning before doing household chores like sweeping the yard, lighting the fire and warming water for parents to bath and cooking for the family. 

As the health ambassador, the First Lady told the girls that sleeping without cleaning plates was unhygienic and exposed families to diseases caused by flies, roaches and rats.

She also implored them to abstain from sexual intercourse before time, saying it brought diseases and tribulations.

“I was delighted to hear that you are regularly taught by the chief’s wife here and I urge you to continue teaching good manners to your friends in your communities and schools,” said the First Lady. Herald


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