Women’s Comfort Corner Foundation (WCCF) director Rita Marque-Mbatha has petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seeking his intervention in a matter in which a Chitungwiza woman, who scalded a six-year-old girl with hot water causing her first degree burns, was sentenced to 210 hours of community service despite the gravity of the injuries inflicted on the victim.

WCCF raised the issue after Pamela Chipile was sentenced to perform 210 hours community service by a Chitungwiza magistrate following her conviction on charges of physical abuse and negligently causing serious bodily harm.

Chipile scalded the minor following a verbal showdown with the girl’s mother.Marque-Mbatha, who is also the vice-president of the International Alliance of Women (IAW), which advocates for the elimination of violence against women and children, also wrote to the Prosecutor-General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi complaining about Chipile’s “lenient” sentence.

“Reference is made to a plethora of letters written to you (PG) by Ms Rita Marque-Mbatha and to date we have not received any update. We still aver that the sentence (community service) meted out to Ms Pamela Chipile the accused was grossly disproportionate to the offence committed considering that the doctor averred that the first degree burns on the six-year-old child were very serious and a possibility of a permanent damage abounds,” WCCF said in a letter dated October 11, 2019, addressed to Hodzi.

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Marque-Mbatha accused the PG of delaying responses, yet Mnangagwa, despite his busy schedule had promptly responded to her letter.

“A letter written to His Excellency, the Honourable President of Zimbabwe, but despite his busy schedule, he responded to the letter within three days and same delivered to our offices in Hatfield,” Marque-Mbatha said.

“In working with professionals inside and outside the criminal justice system, we seek to improve outcomes for victims and pursue accountability for their assailants. Our goal is to protect the victims and prevent future attacks, counselling and to keep our communities safe thus communication is of paramount importance and we are concerned about the inordinate delay in responding to the concerns of our client in the instant matter.”

On July 30, 2019, Mnangagwa’s principal private secretary, one W Gwatiringa assured the women’s organisation that the President had referred the matter to Hodzi for possible appeal.

“Thank you for writing to his Excellency the President on the above subject. Kindly be advised that His Excellency the President referred the matter to the Prosecutor-General for a possible appeal,” Gwatiringa wrote.