On 6 May, Trymore Musakanya (27) of Norton was found guilty of 16 counts of rape and robbery, and sentenced to 74 years in prison.
All told, Musakanya was up on 22 counts, but five were dropped after victims did not turn up to court. From a 90 year conviction, 16 years were suspended on the condition that he does not commit a similar offence in the next four years (the court takes into account any offences committed in prison). This leaves Musakanya with an effective 74 year jail term.
The judge heard over and over again, how Musakanya got the attention of the women with the promise of jobs, before luring them to secluded spots to rape and rob them. The desperate female job seekers fell victim to him in many different parts of Harare including Marlborough, Pomona dumpsite, Westgate, Bluffhill, Mabelreign and other areas.
Authorities were alerted to the possibility of a serial rapist after reports filed by victims with counsellors at the Adult and Adolescent Rape Clinic (AARC) and the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Mbare branch indicated a pattern to the crimes.
Janet Mapumhanga a counsellor at the AARC, says the survivors she interviewed disclosed that Musakanya threatened them saying he was a Satanist and that they would either sleep with him or his snake.
“He would actually collect girls from their guardians alleging that he knew someone who wanted a shop assistant. They would pay for his bus fare from Norton, and in one case he made a girl walk from Long Chen Plaza to a swampy area in Marlborough and taking advantage of the dark, raped her and stole her money and phone.” she said.
The court case lasted through April with Musakanya denying the charges and suggesting that the women owed him money and had ganged up against him. Musakanya tried to use his wife as a witness, but instead she testified against him.
Sentences of varying length were given for all counts levelled against Musakanya, ranging from one and a half years to 18 years.
Outreach officer for AARC Phephisiwe Muranda says that victims are sometimes afraid to testify for fear of stigmatisation and because of the possibility that the rapists might walk free. She said that in this case justice was served and hoped that it would encourage survivors to open up, and not consider themselves to blame in any way.
“It is fortunate that all those women turned up as witnesses as most times they fear stigmatisation. This has proved to other survivors out there that justice is possible.” said Muranda.
Musakanya will be 101 by the time his sentence is up – a figure that excludes fresh charges brought against him after his conviction when another woman heard of his imprisonment.
The AARC meanwhile is still uncertain about whether they will be able to continue their critical work in supporting rape victims with health and counselling services, and with their interaction with the police. Harare News reported in February that the Clinic was facing funding challenges – a situation that is ongoing.
Chairperson of the AARC board Dr Ginny Iliff says the clinic is struggling and is in desperate need of support. “We have definite funding until the end of July, but the future is not certain.”