July 5, 2006
|Died||July 15, 2021 (aged 15)|
Johanne Marange Apostolic Church shrine
Anna Machaya who initially was reported as Memory was a 15-year-old girl who died during childbirth at a Johanne Marange Apostolic Church shrine.
Anna was the last born child in a family of six. She left behind a baby boy who was said to be in the custody of his father.
Anna Machaya's mother was Shy Mabika. Anna was from a polygamous family. Anna Machaya's were planning to offer their nine-year-old daughter to their in-laws as Memory’s replacement (chigadzamapfihwa).
The confusion surrounding Anna Machaya's name can be attributed to her parents who openly lied to the Police that Anna Machaya was born on 2 January 1999.
Her mother went on to give Police investigators a national identity card in a bid to prove that she was born on 2 January 1999.
Investigations revealed that the identity card produced to the police belonged to a namesake of the late minor who was a daughter of Ernest Machaya. This was an uncle to the late Anna Machaya.
Anna was born on 5 July 2006.
Machaya was forced out of school while doing Form One in Mhondoro to get married to Evans Momberume. This was despite the fact that according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the legal age of consent for sexual activity is 16, while the minimum age for marriage is 18. A landmark 2016 Constitutional Court decision declared child marriages unconstitutional and set 18 as the minimum marriage age for girls and boys, without exceptions.
The death of Anna Machaya while giving birth caused outrage among citizens and rights activists on social media. The United Nations in Zimbabwe issued a statement condemning the circumstances leading to the death of Anna Machaya. An online petition calling for justice for Memory was created. By August 8, 2021 it had received over 36,500 signatures.
Anna Machaya reportedly died around 9am on July 15 and was secretly buried two hours later. She died whilst having her first birth.
Her mother's sister Alice Mabika said from the information they obtained from Momberume’s sister (name not supplied), those who attended to Anna said she complained of a headache.
She said the "midwives" diagnosed that Memory had ulcers in the mouth and nose and went on to rub her mouth with salt while pouring paraffin into her nose. She said:
"We were told that five ‘midwives’ attended to Memory and rubbed salt in her mouth, while pouring paraffin in her nose. We were told that she had a seizure and hit her head on the ground. She died soon after delivering her baby boy and the church members went on to bury her without involving us."
She said they were barred from entering the shrine and a scuffle ensued as they sought to force their way in after spending the night waiting to be granted access. Mabika said:
"When we arrived at the shrine around 2pm, we were told to wait until the prayers were done at 6pm. The security team checked us around 7pm, but they became evasive. Our pleas to be attended to fell on deaf ears and we had to spend the night in the open. We remained resolute in our quest to see our daughter’s body, but the security details would not budge. We even tried to engage the service of our relative who is in the police force in Chinhoyi. We phoned him and he tried to talk to the church’s security personnel, but they refused to entertain him over the phone."
In a statement, national police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were investigating the death of Memory Machaya. He said information would be released as soon as investigations were done.
Police also pressed criminal charges against Anna Machaya's father, Edmore Machaya and mother Shy Mabika for obstructing or defeating the course of justice. The parents openly lied to the Police that Anna Machaya was born on 2 January 1999.
The mother went on to give Police investigators a national identity card in a bid to prove that she was born on 2 January 1999, which was false.
Investigations revealed that the identity card produced to the police belonged to a namesake of the late minor who is a daughter of Ernest Machaya. This is an uncle to the late Anna Machaya.
It is through school records in Mhondoro that the Police actually proved that the late Anna Machaya was born on 5 July 2006 to Edmore Machaya and Shy Mabika.
The Police obtained the correct birth certificate copies in respect of Memory Machaya and the late Anna Machaya. These were two different people with different mothers and fathers. Machaya's parents were also charged with pledging a minor after trying to hand over another minor aged nine years to the suspect.
- Married at 14 . . . Child rapist still walking free, The Manica Post, Published: August 8, 2021, Retrieved: August 9, 2021
- Lovemore, Memory Machaya Is Alive, Police Speak On Death Of Pregnant Minor At Shrine | FULL TEXT, Pindula News, Published: August 19, 2021, Retrieved: August 19, 2021
- Dewa Mavhinga, Ensure Justice for Zimbabwe’s Child Brides, HRW, Published: August 8, 2021, Retrieved: August 9, 2021
- UN condemns child marriage in Zimbabwe as girl dies after giving birth, The Guardian, Published: August 8, 2021, Retrieved: August 9, 2021
- Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, JUST IN: Police investigate death of 14-year-old giving birth, The Chronicle, Published: August 6, 2021, Retrieved: August 9, 2021