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Judicial CP - January 2006

Corpun file 17322

Zimbabwe Chronicle, Harare, 23 January 2006

Magistrate in dilemma

Harare Bureau

THE transexuality of a Harare 16-year-old orphan caused a lot of problems for Harare Magistrate, Mr Wellington Mhembere, last week.

The teenager was convicted of swindling a local businessman of more than $18 million and four bottles of wine.

Then came the problem of sentence.

Community service was ruled out because the teenager was an orphan with no fixed abode.

Corporal punishment, allowed for boys but not girls under 18, was ruled out because no one could decide whether the teenager was a boy or a girl.

A fine was ruled out because the homeless orphan had no money.

Prison was a problem, since there was no way of deciding in court if the convicted swindler was a boy or girl, and therefore no way the Zimbabwe Prison Service could decide whether to hold the teenager in a men's or women's prison.

In the end, with all other options closed, the magistrate slapped the teenager with a nine months wholly suspended prison sentence.

The 16-year-old transexual pleaded guilty.

On 15 January this year, the minor hid in the toilet of Papa Charlie Meats when the owner, Mr Tonderai Maredza, closed his shop.

When Mr Maredza came back to check the shop he heard a strange sound inside and, on opening the door, bumped into the teenager who had packed four bottles and $18,9 million in a bag and was trying to force an exit.

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