Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
A COUNCILLOR in Tsholotsho is establishing a reputation for hunting down fugitive rapists and has once again been instrumental in the arrest of a man who allegedly raped a granny, 69.
Ward 16 Councillor Patrick Ngwenya last week tracked down Norman Ziwabe, 23, of Shaba Village under Chief Gampu to a village about 20 km from a homestead where he allegedly raped the elderly woman on Tuesday last week.
Villagers and the police had concluded that Ziwabe had skipped the border to neighbouring South Africa when they failed to locate him but Clr Ngwenya, with dogged determination, took two days to locate the fugitive at Mathe business centre.
A police source on Friday confirmed that Ziwabe was being held at Tsholotsho Police Station.
A neighbour, Fikile Ngwenya, told The Chronicle that Ziwabe broke into the elderly woman’s hut while she was sleeping.
“Ziwabe sneaked into the bedroom hut when my friend was fast asleep. She woke up to find him struggling to remove her underwear,” said Ngwenya.
She said Ziwabe hit the woman and covered her mouth when she tried to scream for help.
“My friend said he threatened to kill her if she continued struggling. He went on to rip off her undies and raped her,” she said.
“She came and told me what had happened at midnight on Tuesday and the following day I accompanied her to the police and made a report.”
Her neighbour was treated at a clinic but was still traumatised and hurt.
She said she was happy the “disgusting maniac” had been arrested.
“Ziwabe was supposed to view her as his grandmother. It’s disgusting that he saw her as a mere woman whom he would express his desires on. We’re glad he was arrested and hope justice will take its course,” she said.
A villager who witnessed the arrest marvelled at Clr Ngwenya’s bravery.
“He’s a very brave man because these rapists are dangerous people who are often armed. He’s really making a difference because his area is quickly becoming a no-rape zone. Our children are safe with him around,” said Zibonele Ncube.
Clr Ngwenya said he was pleased to have assisted in accounting for yet another rapist.
“After getting the report, I kept my ear to the ground. I heard the rapist could be at a relative’s in Mathe Village and I found him there,” said Clr Ngwenya.
Ziwabe had tried to frame his cousin, a convicted rapist, for the crime.
“After committing the crime, he went straight to his cousin’s homestead and walked around to leave tracks. I knew straight away his cousin was innocent because the shoe belonged to Ziwabe,” he said.
“Because I dedicated myself to protecting villagers, I personally hunted the young man, who was caught at Mathe business centre and I surrendered him to police,” said the fuming councilor.
He said he gathered a team of boys who accompanied him to effect a citizen’s arrest of the suspect.
“I’m angry that that boy hurt the poor woman. I’m sure she needs further examination and counselling. I’m taking her to Tsholotsho District Hospital on Monday,” said Clr Ngwenya on Sunday.
In December, The Chronicle published a story in which Clr Ngwenya hunted down a man who had sexually abused his sister for more than five years leading to his arrest.
He said as a councillor and a community leader, whose role is to protect people, he has always been against abusers.
“I’ll always hunt down those who abuse our mothers and sisters. I hope the arrest of the suspect will teach many that rape is inhumane and it leads to arrest,” he said.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson, Inspector Siphiwe Makonese could not be reached for comment.