Zimbabwe’s senior female football team (Mighty Warriors) coach Shadreck Mlauzi has been cleared of sexual assault charges.
Mlauzi, who was accused by a female member of the Mighty Warriors technical team of indecently assaulting her during camp was cleared by Harare Magistrate Esther Chichera after taking note of inconsistencies in the complainant’s story.
In her ruling, the Magistrate said the State failed to prove its case against Mlauzi.
“The inconsistencies in the complainant’s statements discredit her case. The State has failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused person. The complainant once said that the accused tried to grab her thighs, but she stepped back and then changed goalposts saying he touched her buttocks.
“The accused’s defence was that he had a virtual relationship with the complainant. He denied the events of September 26. He confirmed that she came to his room to get the money for the resistance bands, and he just admired her. He was of the belief that the complainant was being used by people who wanted to tarnish his reputation as the head coach.
“In cases such as this, evidence should be treated with caution because it will be the word of the complainant against the accused.
“The essential elements of assault are intention to harm. The first time, the complainant said the accused had tried to force a kiss. The complainant introduced an issue of being raped at the police station. She also made another statement when she appeared in court. Why would she have such inconsistent statements?” the magistrate queried.
“The only conclusion is that there is no instance or that she wanted to exaggerate the matter. The court did not believe that complainant was assaulted in any way. The WhatsApp messages show that the night after the alleged assault, they had a cordial conversation. She was even sending pictures to the accused updating him on what she was doing.
“It was reported a day after and one would assume that events were still fresh. When the events were fresh she said the accused tried to grab her thighs and she stepped back. Later at the police, she said he touched her buttocks. Thighs and buttocks are two different things. There are probabilities of fabrication.
“The complainant has an shown herself to be uncredible witness. Not much time had passed so one wonders why there are such inconsistencies. The state even failed to explain why there are such inconsistencies,” said Chichera.
The accuser, whose name was not revealed to protect her identity, reported the case to the Zimbabwe Republic Police after the team’s return from the COSAFA Women’s Championship in South Africa.
According to her police report, the first incident happened during the pre-tournament camp in Harare, where the coach is alleged to have attempted to kiss her without her consent, but she refused.
The following incidents took place in South Africa during the tournament, a development which prompted the accuser to report to COSAFA. This led to Mlauzi’s suspension in the following match.