Tsholotsho’s raped, pregnant 9-year-old

26 Nov, 2023 - 00:11 0 Views
Tsholotsho’s raped, pregnant 9-year-old

The Sunday News

Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter

PARENTS of the then nine-year-old Tsholotsho girl who made headlines last year after getting pregnant and successfully delivered a baby girl through a Caesarian section have made a passionate plea to the Government to be allowed to legally adopt their grandchild.

Their plea has been made through the Department of Social Welfare where they want their grandchild’s birth certificate to be taken in their names. The Government had taken custody of the baby since birth, after the mother was sexually abused leading to the pregnancy. A then 13-year-old neighbour was said to be responsible for the pregnancy, after the father of the girl was initially arrested on suspicion of raping his daughter.

The baby, delivered at the United Bulawayo Hospitals turned one year on 14 November, while the mother has since returned to school in Bulawayo and is in Grade Three. A visit to the girl’s family in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province by Sunday News last week revealed that although both mother and child are living in different State institutions for children in Bulawayo, they are all doing well. The mother of the girl (now 10 years old), is at peace with the circumstances facing the family and gave an insight into what has transpired in the past 12 months.

“I left the home where they were kept in December last year and returned to Tsholotsho. By the time I left they had both stabilised healthwise, so I returned to the village. Since then, we have been visiting the children in Bulawayo. The challenge is that we are having difficulties travelling to check on them monthly. It is costing us a lot. The children are at different homes where they are being kept in Bulawayo,” said the mother.

She said they have made a passionate plea to the Government through the Department of Social Welfare to be given legal custody of both minors.

“We want them both, they are our children. We can leave the 10-year-old for a while because she is still in school in Bulawayo. We can see her during the school holidays until we find a lasting solution. What we are appealing for is to be given legal custody for our grandchild now. We want full custody of her. We are working on this plan and we have informed the Department of Social Welfare which is handling the matter, so we are waiting for their response. We want those (children) that are here at the homestead to grow up knowing their siblings, they need to get familiar with each other, which we believe is good for their wellbeing,” she said.

Asked on the family’s integration into the community after news of the pregnancy, arrest of her husband, and subsequent birth of her grandchild, the mother of the 10-year-old said they have not had any challenges.

“When I returned home after the ordeal, nothing changed, we still live the same way we were doing before. The  boy’s family too, we are all living amicably with them. The boy (responsible for the pregnancy) was moved from the village. I understand he appeared in court in Bulawayo. The local Chief also counseled us and told us that we must live amicably since we are related and we are doing just that, there is no bad blood between us,” she said.

The authorities at the home where the one-year-old is being taken care of said the baby was doing well.

“The baby is doing well. There are no issues at all. The children were here at the same institution initially but we quickly separated them so that the mother could go back to being the child she is, she needed to move on with life so they had to be separated. We are glad that she is back in school and all is well. She has been attending children’s camps and really enjoying herself,” said the official.

The official added that it was always recommended that children grow up in a family set up where they interact freely with their friends and family saying institutionalising children was not ideal but circumstances may see children being removed from their families into the custody of the State. The fate of the boy who is said to be responsible for the pregnancy is being handled by the courts and legal systems. Meanwhile, the social worker who was assigned to the Tsholotsho girl’s case from the onset and managed to unearth what had happened, visually impaired Mr Brighton Ndebele passed away in a road traffic accident in July.  — @NyembeziMu

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