Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A POLYGAMOUS Plumtree-based police officer accused of sexually molesting 20 pupils while conducting an investigation into an alleged sexual abuse at Bulu Primary school in Mphoengs, has approached the High Court seeking bail pending trial.
The court is yet to set a date for hearing the matter.
Constable Peter Muzulu (35) stationed at Plumtree Police Station is accused of shoving his fingers into 20 pupils’ private parts and fondling their breasts on March 26. The girls, who are doing Grades Six and Seven, are aged between 11 and 15 years.
Muzulu, who resides at Plumtree ZRP camp, is facing 20 counts of aggravated indecent assault. He has through his lawyer Mr Innocent Mafirakurewa of Moyo and Nyoni Legal Practitioners, filed an application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.
In his bail statement, Muzulu, who is a member of the Johane Masowe Apostolic Faith sect, said he is a sole bread winner taking care of his seven wives and 15 children, the youngest being five months old.
He is denying the charges, arguing that there was no suggestion why the complainants failed to raise alarm by screaming while being allegedly molested.
“It is not clear as to when they all reported the allegations to the class teacher and why the applicant was not advised of such allegations at the time that he met the headmistress and indicated to her that he had completed the interviews. The applicant therefore vehemently denies the charges that have been levelled against him,” said Mr Mafirakurewa.
He said medical reports conducted by three different doctors confirmed that there was no penetration or any visible injuries suggesting that the pupils were abused.
“It is clearly of paramount importance in proving the allegations that it is not enough for the State by virtue of Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to be content with opposing bail as is in this instance on the basis that the onus is on the applicant without fully considering the circumstances of the whole case, and establishing a firm foundation or reasons for opposing bail,” argued Mr Mafirakurewa.
Muzulu allayed fears by the State that if granted bail he would interfere with its witnesses, saying that his workplace was a considerable distance from the school.
He argued that there were no compelling reasons by the State to justify his continued detention.
“The applicant in casu has demonstrated and discharged the onus on him, on a balance of probabilities, that it is in the interest of justice for him to be released on bail,” said the lawyer.
Muzulu offered to pay $100 bail and to report twice a week at Plumtree Police Station as part of the bail conditions. He said he was also willing to surrender his passport and reside at his given address until the matter is finalised.
In papers before the court, it is alleged that on March 26 at around 4PM, the officer-in-charge Mphoengs Police Station assigned Muzulu to go to Bulu Primary School to investigate alleged sexual abuse cases involving the pupils following a tip off.
On arrival at the school, Muzulu met the headmistress who briefed him about the issue before he requested to be provided with a room where he conducted one-on-one sessions with 20 female pupils interviewing them about cases of sexual assault at the school.
He is accused of having denied a female teacher the permission to be part of the meetings and said he only wanted to be with the pupils alone.
During the interviews, Muzulu is alleged to have asked a series of questions before fondling the girls in the classroom, where he held one-on-one meetings with each of them. He went on to insert his fingers into the pupils’ genitals without their consent.
The matter came to light when pupils reported their ordeal to their teachers who in turn reported the matter to the police leading to Muzulu’s arrest.
Some pupils are said to have bled leading them to be rushed to Brunapeg Hospital for medical examination. Muzulu had since been moved to a different police station pending investigations.