HARARE – Call it changing times. Unlike yester years, Zimbabweans have come to witness more and more women being arrested and prosecuted for committing third schedule offences which were previously common with their male counterparts.
Pre-meditated murders, armed robberies, attempted murders and a number of other heinous crimes have now become easy bed fellows with women who, once, had the trust of the public for being better law abiding citizens.
Even the country’s jurisdictions guarantee lenient sentences to women than men to the extent that the Constitution exempts them from getting the death penalty.
The surge in crime and drug abuse has according to award winning human rights lawyer Obey Shava, a reflection of the country’s worsening economic situation.
“…as Aristotle observed, poverty and crime are associated. They have a very intimate relationship. To be a woman in Zimbabwe, for majority, is to be workless, poorly paid or just plain poor. Worse still, most of these women are married to highly educated but extremely impoverished men due to man-made problems that we are enduring in Zimbabwe .
“Having less wealth puts a strain on individuals and families but most importantly, on a woman. When this woman lacks means of fulfilling these onerous obligations, she becomes increasingly emotional, stressful and negatively affected in many ways.
“The solution is in the revival of the economy. Our government must address basic socio economic issues. These women lack basic things which any country, even those at war, should provide to their female citizens,” said Shava.
Just last week, two women in their early 20s who were part of a six-member gang were arraigned before the Harare magistrates’ courts on suspicion of killing four people and brutally attacking eight others during armed robberies.
The gang appeared before Harare magistrate Barbra Chimboza charged with four counts of murder and eight of attempted murder.
The group is among countless others that employ various tricks to lure and pounce on their targets and it seems having a woman in the gang makes work much easier for them.
Zimbabwe Republic Police issued a statement warning the public.
“Armed robbers are on the prowl and members of the public are therefore discouraged from keeping large sums of cash in person, cars or business premises. In most cases they are armed with pistols and dangerous weapons.
“Members of the public are also warned to desist from travelling in the night especially in isolated places,” police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said.
Arshiel Mugiya a legal practitioner at Mugiya and Macharaga said commercial sex workers were the most involved in perpetuating such crimes but echoed the same sentiments as Shava’s that it was a reflection of the country’s ailing economy.
“Women of questionable morals are on record turning their clients into victims of well-orchestrated rackets of extortion using threats and violence. They are working in cahoots with men who major in drug dealing and some known thieves.
“The most disheartening part about the whole issue is that the victims of commercial sex workers’ orchestrated robberies are too ashamed to stand trial and end up having the accused persons off the hook. They rarely get prosecuted.
“I feel these women must be prosecuted in camera to protect their victims otherwise they will continue indulging in crime knowing their cases will not take off,” Mugiya said.
Human rights lawyer Kudzai Kadzere said it was high time the Constitution treated women and men equally whenever such heinous crimes were committed.
“I think the Constitution is self-defeating in differentiating between men and women when it comes to the death penalty. If we are equal before the law then capital punishment should be meted out to all regardless of gender.
“In fact the special treatment given to female offenders may actually be fuelling the spike in violent murders by women. The contradiction in the law is hard to miss and I am yet to fully grasp the reasoning behind exempting rogue female murderers from the hangman’s noose.”