FORMER Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (ZIMDEF) boss Leonard Rwambiwa, convicted of indecent assault after he allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a married girlfriend, has been acquitted following a successful appeal at the High Court.
Rwambiwa was in 2019 convicted against his plea and sentenced to 60 days in prison with an option to pay a $1 000 fine by Harare provincial magistrate Yeukai Chigodora after a full trial. He appealed against the ruling at the High Court complaining the charges were concocted.
“There were also numerous contradictions and inconsistences from witness testimony to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. The complainant basically concocted a story that was unbelievable,” his lawyer, Paida Saurombe argued at the High Court.High Court judges, Justices Happias Zhou and Benjamin Chikowero upheld Rwambiwa’s arguments.
“Wherefore, after reading documents filed on record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that the appeal succeeds and the conviction is set aside and the following is substituted, the accused be and is hereby found guilty and not acquitted,” the judges said in their ruling.
Saurombe said their main argument was the magistrate disregarded the standards of reporting sexual assault offences adding the only circumstances the complainant made the allegations were that she feared her marriage would break down.
Rwambiwa also lost his job following the conviction.
Saurombe said they will be appealing against Rwambiwa’s dismissal at the Labour Court.
In sentencing Rwambiwa, the magistrate said the ruling should send a message to society that when a woman says “no”, she means it, and also for men in top positions to learn not to take advantage of their subordinates especially women.
According to the state, on July 9, 2019, the complainant was at work when Rwambiwa requested she prepared tea for him as it was part of her duties.
The court heard the woman did as requested and served Rwambiwa tea in his office.
It was alleged that as she was leaving the office, Rwambiwa followed her and touched her buttocks without her consent.