A 24-YEAR-OLD man from Esigodini has been jailed 30 years for raping, on separate occasions, two pupils aged eight and 13-years-old.

In the first incident, the man ambushed a group of learners that were coming from school while in the second incident he ambushed learners that were going to school.

He was arrested after villagers teamed up and tracked his shoe print.

The man pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape when he appeared before Gwanda regional magistrate, Mr Mark Dzira but was convicted due to overwhelming evidence.

He was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for both counts and 10 years were suspended on condition that he will not commit a similar offence within the next five years.

The man will serve an effective 20 year jail term.

In his defence, the man told the court that he had gone to Bulawayo on the day he is alleged to have committed the first offence and was herding cattle at the time he was alleged to have committed the second offence.

Prosecuting, Mr Blessing Gundani said the man raped the eight-year-old, a Grade Two pupil, on October 16 last year while he raped the 13-year-old, a Grade Six pupil, on October 30.

“On 16 October at around 2PM, the complainant was on her way home from school with a group of friends when they noticed that the accused was following them. He then chased after the learners and got hold of the complainant and dragged her away from her friends. He dragged the juvenile into a bush while her friends ran away.

“The accused raped the complainant and fled from the scene. The juvenile got dressed and returned to the footpath crying and met her school mates who were now looking for her. The complainant reported the matter to her parents,” he said.

Mr Gundani said on October 30 last year at around 8AM, the Grade Six pupil was on her way to school in the company of four school mates when the accused emerged from a bushy area.

He said the accused chased after the learners who fled in different directions and he pursued the complainant.

The accused caught up with her and dragged into a bushy area before ordering the other learners to proceed to school.

“The accused raped the juvenile and then ordered her to go to school. One of the learners who had fled reported the matter to their headmistress. The headmistress and other teachers organised a team to pursue the accused but they failed to locate him,” he said.

Mr Gundani said in the afternoon, local villagers teamed up and tracked the accused’s foot prints that led from the crime scene to his homestead.

An identification parade was conducted at Esigodini Police Station on October 31 last year where both his victims and other learners positively identified the accused as the one behind the rape.chronicle