Chimanimani girls still missing

Betty Makoni founder of the Girl Child Network Worldwide

By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
24 June 2014

Three Chimanimani girls who disappeared last month are still missing with State and NGO officials either unaware or still not prepared to share much on their fate.

SW Radio Africa reported last week that the three siblings aged between 13 and 16 had been missing for almost a month with the police refusing to investigate the matter. At the time several NGOs said they had not heard of the story which first appeared in a Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) May newsletter.

This week an official at an interested faith-based organization contacted SW Radio Africa saying the girls are ‘not missing per se but it’s a complicated and long story.’ An official from the department of child welfare and probation services confirmed the story but refused to comment further saying ‘as a ministry we don’t just speak to the press like that.’

The three girls were initially abducted by Amon Jekiseni from the Machongwe Business Center where Jekiseni runs a tuck-shop. A search party traced the girls to Jekiseni’s house the following day where it was alleged that one of the girls had been sexually abused.

The parents reported the case and left the girls in police custody and made a request for a medical exam at Mutambara Hospital. But the following day the police phoned to say they had released the girls. When they did not reach home the police refused to investigate the disappearance, threatening to arrest the parents themselves.

Girl Child Network Worldwide founder Betty Makoni said Chimanimani was notorious for older men and witch doctors that use young girls for rituals. She said: ‘It’s not a new thing because that area is known for rituals where they use young girls who are virgins to either get rich or to sleep with in the belief that they will get healed of their illnesses.’
She added: ‘I hope that those who are investigating it will start looking in that direction because it doesn’t make sense that girls will just disappear with people refusing to say much.’

Makoni said the fact that the police are said to be unwilling to investigate suggests that a crime involving top officials was committed and everything is now being done to conceal the evidence.

Last week Grace Chirenje from the Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building said the silence over the disappearence of the three girls was indicative of the situation in the country where many women rights violations such as rape go either ‘unreported or underreported.’

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