Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba

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Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba

Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba is a Zimbabwean lawyer and judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe. In July 2018 her husband was arrested on allegations of raping the family’s housemaid and stealing her mobile phone in a bid to conceal evidence.

Background

Husband

Cleopas Mugomba[1]

Husband's Arrest For Rape

Sylvia Chirau's husband Cleopas Mugomba was arrested on allegations of raping the family’s housemaid and stealing her mobile phone in a bid to conceal evidence of the act. Mugomba appeared before Harare magistrate Bianca Makwande in July 2018 charged with rape and one count of attempted rape.

He was also charged with theft after he allegedly seized the housemaid’s mobile phone which had accidentally captured images of their scuffle. Mugomba denied all the allegations.

According to the State, the incident occurred on 7 June 2018. Mugomba reportedly asked the maid to accompany him to House number 7, Kingfisher Road, in Borrowdale where she was supposed to do some cleaning as the family was expected to move into the property in a few days.

Mugomba changed course and, instead, went to his office where they found some men occupying the room.

He then drove the maid to the Borrowdale house where he allegedly raped her once without using protection.

Narrating her ordeal, the maid said she feared for her wellbeing and did not report the matter to the police because Mugomba is the husband of a judge. She said:

“I could not tell anyone. I did not report the case to the police because I feared for my wellbeing. I was also afraid of the accused’s wife who is a Judge. When we arrived at the house, I never suspected the accused was up to something. I started cleaning the bathtub when the accused came and asked me to bid him farewell. I did not understand what he really meant but he went on to grab me and pin me down facing downwards. He then unzipped his trousers and went on to rape me ignoring my screams. Still no one could hear me because there was no one at the place.”

A few days after the incident, Justice Chirau reportedly left Zimbabwe on business. Mugomba then proceeded to inform his mother-in-law that he wanted the maid to supervise men who were doing some work at their new house before he drove her to the property.

When they got to the Borrowdale home, the maid said Mugomba changed his clothes and allegedly started pulling her towards a spare bedroom. During the scuffle, the maid pressed a button on her mobile phone and it started taking screenshots.

Mugomba confiscated the maid's phone fearing she was taking pictures. The maid escaped the house and went outside where she bumped into a man identified as Mr Khumalo whom she asked for 50 cents. On being asked why the maid indicated what had happened and that is how she ended up making a police report.

Mugomba allegedly followed the maid and Mr Khumalo to the police station and tried to stop them from reporting the abuse saying it would destroy his life. He was asked to hand over the victim’s phone, but he refused to surrender the gadget.[1]


Notable Cases

In 2019 Justice Chirawu-Mugomba called for a countrywide database of married individuals to reduce bigamy. She said the Registrar of Marriages should move from just asking for passport size colour photographs of couples' images and fingerprints to discourage bigamy.

Sylvia Chirawu-Mugomba said the Registrar of Marriages should have a real-time online database for all married persons. She said:

“Every marriage officer must be mandated to search the database whether or not the person intending to marry is free from other legal impediments. Additionally, or alternatively, every person who intends to marry must produce a certificate of ‘present status’ obtained from the Registrar of Marriages as a form of clearance.”

Justice Chirawu-Mugomba was delivering a judgement in a case where Ms Mobape had approached the High Court seeking a review of the Master of High Court’s decision to dismiss her application for maintenance in the estate of her late husband Lovemore Mobape.

The Master of High Court threw out Ms Mobape application on the basis that she lacked the required legal footing in terms of Section 2 of the Deceased Persons Family Maintenance Act.

The couple had lived together as husband and wife for 42 years under an unregistered customary law union until the husband's death in November 2017.

During the subsistence of their unregistered customary law marriage, the couple had founded a church, New Gospel Church of God. But at the time of his death, Mr Mobape was still married to Ms Chaitezvi under civil law (Marriage Act (Chapter 5: 11).

The Master of the High Court had ruled that Ms Mobape was not entitled to an award of maintenance from the deceased estate in question.

In her ruling, Justice Chirawu-Mugomba upheld the decision by the Master of High Court saying Ms Mobape was not qualified to be a dependent in the estate of the deceased.[2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 High Court Judge’s husband charged with raping housemaid, NewZimbabwe.com, Published: July 20, 2018, Retrieved: April 29, 2021
  2. Fidelis Munyoro, List all married people: Judge, The Herald, Published: October 14, 2019, Retrieved: May 8, 2021