Another Woman Ignored, More Precedent Set : The Injustice in S v Pamuchigere.
On the 7th of November 2019 Livieson Pamuchigere was released on bail for RTGS300 (the equivalent today of $13 United Stated Dollars) after assaulting and attempting to murder his ex wife Catherine Nkonde (formerly known as Pamuchigere). Today, on the 31st of January 2020, Magistrate Kuwanda ruled that Livieson Pamuchigere was not guilty of attempted murder, guilty of a competent verdict of assault and liable to pay a fine of 6300RTGS in total.
These are the facts of the incident :
In September 2019 Catherine divorced Livieson after 16 years of marriage. It was ordered by the court that they would continue to share the premises until Livieson secured alternative accommodation for Catherine and their three children.
On the 4th of November Catherine was home with said children when Livieson demanded she evacuate the premises. He poured castle lite on her head and bashed her head with the bottle (bruises were evident from the pictures and live videos on social media). He proceeded to go to the kitchen where he got a knife and had to be held back by his children (15, 12 and 11 years old ) while Catherine ran out of the house. Livieson threw a brick at her at this time which landed on her ankle (an injury Catherine has had throughout the duration of the trial) and a jag, which landed on her hand. He then attempted to run her over with his car while the children sat in the back seat, until Catherine was assisted by neighbors in the vicinity, that have long witnessed her be subjected to abuse.
Upon arriving at the scene the investigating officer did not collect any evidence, save for the brick that was used and left lying in the yard. The jag had been taken by the accused, the knife apparently washed.
The trial started soon after bail was granted.
Livieson was charged with attempted murder under section 47 read with section 189 (1) of the Criminal Law (Reform and Codification). During the trial Catherine’s children were called as witnesses. Their statements were disregarded by the court because they were emotional and unable to testify up to court standards. They were afraid of the possible conviction of their father, and understandably traumatized by the violence they had been exposed to. Livieson introduced an entirely new narrative in his defense and stated that he had actually escaped an attack by another man whom Catherine was allegedly with when he got home (despite their divorce and three children being in the house) , and it was said man that had inflicted the injuries on Catherine.
In his ruling , Magistrate Kuwanda stated that it was unlikely that the accused was truthful and that the court was sure he was the one who inflicted the injuries on her. He spoke about the limited evidence in the matter and how although the accused took the knife he may not have intended to stab Catherine. He said that the circumstances under which Catherine had escaped being run over were uncertain and because no members of the public would testify there was reasonable doubt as to whether he attempted to murder her. Hence the competent verdict of assault. It is necessary to state that any observer of the court would have picked up that the Magistrate’s sentiments lacked objectivity. At multiple junctures he made reference to provocation and the need for parties to stay away from the court system. After handing down his sentence the Magistrate ordered Catherine to stand next to her abuser and discouraged provocation in the home, told them to get along and completely disregarded the fact that a woman who has had her life threatened might not want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the man who has threatened it.
The attitude of the justice system is quite curious considering that just a few months ago the Criminal Court was a part of the spotlight initiative standing against gender based violence and yet it seems complainants are more ordinarily encouraged to be forgiving to their abusers . There is a dangerous perpetuation of violence in encouraging reconciliation rather than encouraging men (the primary perpetrators of violence in Zimbabwe) to desist from harmful behavior. It is on days like this that feminism is weary in the face of danger and patriarchy. That women are marginalized through a few words and one decision. That women affected now, and those to come are promised access to justice even though the outcomes of their matters are predetermined by problematic value judgements.