The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE families of two minors from Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province who recently had a child have said there is no bad blood between them following the unfortunate incident.
The incident, which came to light last month after deoxyribonucleic acid tests (DNA) confirmed the 13-year-old boy as having impregnated his nine-year-old cousin, has shocked the country.
The two families also belong to the same clan. In addition, the DNA tests exonerated the father of the nine-year-old who was initially picked up by the police as a prime rape suspect. He, however, is still in remand prison and is set to appear in court this week.
A Sunday News crew travelled to Tsholotsho last Wednesday where they met the two families who were having a meeting discussing the matter. According to the paternal grandmother of the nine-year-old, who travelled from her South Africa base when the story broke, the parents of the 13-year-old boy had come to discuss the matter.
She said their coming together was to avoid distortions in the matter as they said there were inconsistencies in the manner in which the matter was reported in some media outlets.
“You found us in a meeting with the parents of the 13-year-old. They have come with their elders to acknowledge what had occurred between the two children following the publishing of the DNA results. They came in peace and we are happy with that. We are a family.
“We do not want people to say conflicting statements hence we are together here discussing the matter. There is nothing we can do, this is an act that was done by our children, it is nature though, we found it there and we will leave it there. We just do not want distortions,” she said.
It was also confirmed that the father of the nine-year-old was still in remand prison with the relatives revealing that upon his release they were going to convene as a family where the father would also help counsel the two minors.
“The father of the nine-year-old is not there so when he is released, he will speak to both his children. We are grateful that the children are safe, we were not expecting that a nine-year-old could give birth with no challenges, hence we are grateful to God for the miracle. We were not expecting it at all,” said another grandmother.
The paternal grandmother of the nine-year-old further said she was disturbed by accusations levelled against her son, saying as a family they had faced stigma within the community.
“My son was accused of evil things and I wonder where people got it from. I am surprised that there is a goblin that is being talked about, where is all that coming from? We are worried that such reports are being made. Do you know that I could not go to the well to fetch water in the village because of the stigma? I never attended school meetings because of the accusations against my son, all eyes were on us in this village. I am happy the truth is finally out that he did not rape his child,” said the grandmother.
There were reports that the minor girl had told counsellors that her father had told her that goblins would come in through the window at night and rape her, sentiments that have since been dismissed by the family.
“When we were told of the bulging stomach, we assumed she was just sick, nothing more, we encouraged the mother to take her to hospital to seek help. We were not very shocked initially when the stomach bulged because we had never imagined that a child could get pregnant. So, we actually assumed other things like witchcraft, fibroids and not pregnancy. We even prayed so much and she got prayers from other people trying to assist the ‘sick’ child. We all never imagined that she could be pregnant hence it was discovered too late at seven months and there was nothing we could do about it,” she added.
The father of the 13-year-old said the birth of the child was just mischief on the part of the children and will not dent their relationship as a family.
“The parents of the girl are not here so when they come to the village, we will talk about it but there is no bad blood between us, it is just mischief on the children’s part, we remain a family,” he said.
The paternal grandmother of the nine-year-old, however, said she hoped the minor would be separated from the newly-born child.
“I do not want the newborn and the mother to grow up in one place. She will not grow up well or take it well. There is no child that has a child in all fairness. She still needs to return to school and the school must be away from Tsholotsho so that no one recognises her, we are scared she will be stigmatised in the community.
“I do not know if those currently keeping the newborn will give us that child and we raise her, then give her to the mother when she is old enough and in a position to understand what happened. We are still pondering around the issue but we want the newborn to be with us,” she added.
The newborn was handed over to the care of foster parents and the Social Welfare Department. Health experts said the nine-year-old girl was able to fall pregnant due to early puberty, though it is a rare phenomenon. The young girl had also started her menstrual cycle at the early age of seven. [email protected]