Murdered child bride endured daily rape by uncle

The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief 

A GWANDA teenager, Silindokuhle Sibanda, brutally attacked to death by her by 31-year-old lover, who had turned her into his bride, was sexually abused at nine years by her uncle, it has emerged.

The sexual predator would smear petroleum jelly on her private parts for lubrication purposes before forcing himself onto the girl.

The abuse came to light after Silindokuhle fell pregnant sometime last year before she later suffered a miscarriage in December.

To escape the agony of being abused by her uncle, the deceased was married off to Thandazani Ncube. On Sunday, Ncube fatally assaulted Silindokuhle accusing the girl of cheating on him. Silindokuhle stayed with her “husband” at Ncube’s parents’ homestead in Singukwe area.

She had left her home where she stayed with her father who is visually impaired and her brother’s wife. Ncube severely assaulted the teenager in the middle of the night while they were on their way home after attending a party in their locality.

After the brutal attack, Ncube carried the girl home in a wheel barrow and placed her on their bed. The following morning the girl was pronounced dead. 

Following her mother’s death in 2016, Silindokuhle was adopted by her aunt in Binga where her uncle allegedly abused her on several occasions.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited Silindokuhle’s family homestead in Singukwe village in Gwanda District and spoke to the family.

It was an emotional moment for Silindokuhle’s aunt, Ms Rebecca Sibanda as she narrated how the deceased was sexually abused at the age of nine years by her uncle who later fled to South Africa.

“I stayed with my niece Silindokuhle at my homestead in Singukwe before she went to stay with her paternal uncle in Binga. In September last year, she returned home and upon scrutinising her I suspected that she was pregnant,” she said.

“I then took her to a local clinic for examination and it was confirmed that she was indeed pregnant.”

Ms Sibanda said upon quizzing her, Silindokuhle revealed to her that she had been raped by her uncle in Binga.

“She said her uncle would apply petroleum jelly on her private parts  before raping her on several occasions. Fearing her uncle who threatened to kill her if she reported the rape, Silindokuhle kept the ordeal to herself,” said Ms Sibanda before she broke into tears.

Ms Sibanda said Silindokuhle’s uncle would rape her on a daily basis.

She said her niece had a miscarriage in December when the pregnancy was at five months.

Ms Sibanda said she then mobilised funds and sent Silindokuhle back to school. While in school, Ncube took advantage of her lack of maturity and courted her before asking for her hand in marriage.

She said on the day her niece was killed they were attending a traditional ceremony at a neighbouring homestead.

Ms Sibanda said when Ncube arrived at the ceremony he was visibly drunk during which he verbally attacked everyone.

She said Ncube confronted Silindokuhle and started accusing her of having an affair with another man. 

Murder suspect Thandazani Ncube

Ncube together with the deceased were chucked out of the venue of the party by angry people.

Ms Sibanda said Ncube left the venue of the party with the girl. She said they learnt of Silindokuhle’s death the following morning.

“We tried to follow their footsteps back to the venue of the ceremony as we wanted closure. We observed drag marks on the ground an indication that there was a scuffle. It is sad that my niece was killed in gruesome cruel manner,” she said.

Silindokuhle’s father, Mr Joel Sibanda said Ncube first took his daughter without his consent in February while he was away. 

He said upon his return he went to Ncube’s family homestead to collect his daughter.

“I made it clear that I did not want my daughter to be involved in a relationship with Ncube since she was still young. There was a time when I tried to follow up on my daughter at Ncube’s home but they were not there,” said Mr Sibanda.

“Ncube confronted me carrying a knife after I objected to his proposal to take my daughter’s hand in marriage and destroyed my property. I was actually scared of him because he is a known criminal in our community.”

Mr Sibanda said they tried to engage Ncube’s family over the matter without success. 

“My daughter-in-law reported the matter to the police, but they didn’t come. I am of ill-health hence it was difficult for me to face Ncube head-on,” he said before bursting into tears.

“I am really devastated because my daughter was killed like an animal.”

Silindokuhle’s sister-in-law, Ms Nozipho Ncube said Silindokuhle told her that she could not leave Ncube as she feared that he would follow her and hurt their family. 

Mr Joel Sibanda (right)

The deceased’s brother, Mr Peter Sibanda said his younger sister died a painful death at the hands of a man who had been sexually exploiting her.

He said the family tried to get justice for the alleged rape ordeal which his sister experienced in Binga before the alleged perpetrator fled to South Africa.

“We reported the matter to police in Binga and I even made a follow up with them, but I heard the perpetrator has escaped,” said Mr Sibanda.

Ncube’s mother Mrs Sibongile Ncube said her son constantly abused Silindokuhle while they were staying together. 

She said sometimes the girl would come and sleep in her bedroom after having been attacked by Ncube.

Mrs Ncube said on several occasions, she tried to persuade her son to take Silindokuhle back to her family home without success.

Lumene village head, Mr Mike Mbayi said the community had learnt with shock about the incident. 

He said cases of child marriages and teenage pregnancies are a major concern, particularly in the rural areas.

“There is a need for parents, communities, guardians, police and community leaders to work together to protect our children and end child marriages and teenage pregnancies. A criminal shouldn’t be allowed to live in the community,” said Mr Mbayi.

Ncube has appeared in court facing a murder charge and was remanded in custody to November 21. 

Child marriage, child sexual exploitation and teenage pregnancies remain a major concern in the country. According to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) nearly 34 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married countrywide. 

Child marriage is a violation of human rights and the ZGC is concerned about the surge in the practice as well as the exploitation of young women and girls. The Zimbabwe Statistics Agency indicates that 33,7 percent of girls under 18 are married, which means that one in three girls under 18 is married. –@DubeMatutu