She is just 11 years old and met her â€˜husbandâ€™ when she was six. Talking to her, she sounds 20 years old or more because hardships have made her more mature.
Born HIV negative and with a promising future, the minor last week tested HIV positive, has genital warts and is discharging a foul smell from a sexually transmitted infection.
Clad in a long-sleeved orange blouse and a skirt, the girl (name withheld) on Saturday described how grateful she was to the police for rescuing her on Wednesday last week from the jaws of a sexual predator who defiled her repeatedly and locked her up in his house.
The accused is now in custody and has been charged with abduction and defilement.
The â€˜husbandâ€™ pleaded guilty on Friday at South Lunzu Magistrateâ€™s Court. He reportedly openly confessed his acts to some police officers he interacted with, saying, â€œI penetrated her gently without hurting her. I started very slowly and carefully until she got used to it.â€
The girl temporarily found shelter at Police Victim Support Unit where she spent nights since Wednesday pending her transfer to Mpemba Reformatory Centre for protective custody until the trial is over.
Hearing begins on Friday this week.
The suspect turned her into his sex prisoner as he prevented her from attending to the call of nature. She revealed how every evening, upon return from his job as a call boy in Chirimba, he would clean up her urine and faeces from the floor, lock the house to dispose of them and return for more of his sick satisfaction.
Eye of the Child, a non-governmental organisation, is continuing with investigations into revelations from the girl that she was not the only child the man was sleeping with. Two new names of other girls surfaced and a visit to one of the girlsâ€™ home failed to trace her.
She narrated: â€œHe had sex with me daily and kept telling me he would have sex with me until I got exhausted. He grinned every time and threatened to kill me if I ever revealed. I stayed in the house every day and my shouts for help must have fallen on deaf ears. I did not stop trying nonetheless.â€
The girl described the man as â€œNdi chimâ€™bambo chonenepa, chadzimphamvu. Ndingati bouncerâ€ (He is a heavily-built man who looks like a bouncer).
â€˜I tested HIV positiveâ€™
When this reporter visited Ndirande Police, she saw the man nicknamed Niga appearing just as the victim had described him. Clad in a dirty red T-shirt, he had locks and limped his way back to the cell. He was no easy sight for an 11 year old.
â€œMoti andipeza nako kachirombo (I have been found HIV positive),â€ she said looking sad. Asked whether she understood what that meant, she simply said, â€œSindikudziwa kuti ndi chani. Anangondiuza kuti andipeza nako (I have no idea what that is. I was just told that I am positive).
She vividly recalls the first time he had her. He undressed first and then undressed her, held her mouth with his hand and had his way. She screamed as he gained pleasure.
â€œThis way a night after he demonstrated the act to me with a friend (name withheld). I saw his huge manhood as he got on top of my friend. He later gave her K200 and she left,â€ said the girl.
She claimed that her ordeal started some time back (without recalling the exact date) when her mother went to Nsanje. She said she got lost while following her mother and eventually went to the friendâ€™s house, who later directed her to an â€˜uncleâ€™. This was how she got hooked to Niga.
The 11-year-old, who has never been to school, said Niga left her food, usually nsima with pumpkin leaves and matemba before he left for work. He only returned in the evening to continue playing mother and father with her.
A first born in a family of five, her mother, currently due for her sixth child, is a single parent following her husbandâ€™s incarceration eight months ago.
â€˜I didâ€™nt knowâ€™
Thanks to the arrest of Niga, she claims she would not have known about him having carnal knowledge of his daughter, despite having gone to his house in Kameza and found her there.
Said the mother: â€œI went to the house after being directed there. This was when my daughter kept leaving the house to sleep elsewhere. She used to tell me that she was spending nights at a friendâ€™s; so, I believed her. Even the day I went to Nigaâ€™s house, I found three girls, including mine, in the house.
â€œI took her home where she spent only a day and returned. Thereafter, tracking her became difficult, but she would show up at home sometimes and I thought she must have been comfortable, although I never stopped talking to her, even beating her up at times. I could not trace her because I went to Nigaâ€™s house at night.â€
She accused her daughter of being stubborn. The mother did not hide her anger at Niga for allegedly infecting her daughter whom she claimed was born without any ailment.
â€œI hope he gets the punishment he deserves for infecting her without considering the trouble I went through to raise her,â€ she said.
A visit to her house at Chemusa Township earlier on Saturday found a deserted mud house, thatched with grass. Immediately, the youngster rushed inside and changed her torn skirt before offering her visitors, from the police, Nation on Sunday and Eye of the Child, some water.
The mother had gone to Ndirande Police by then, leaving her other two offspring, both under five, home alone. One of them cried out to the girl with open arms, beckoning her to pick him before settling peacefully on the lap of a police officer from Child Protection Desk. He stood up and cried for his elder sister as she departed while the older one simply stared.
Eye of the Child, in conjunction with Gender Network and police, have been conducting campaigns in villages and townships in search of various cases that impinge upon childrenâ€™s rights.
The bodyâ€™s executive director Maxwell Matewere said the current case followed an anonymous call from the community which claimed that a young girl had been married off and they heard her screams for help during the day and her protests in the night, but were too afraid to intervene.
Matewere said he will hold a meeting with the girl, her family, police and relevant authorities on Monday to, among other things, do a proper social assessment of how they can help.
Said Matewere: â€œThere are so many recommendations that include financial support to the family, move them to a new environment to prevent further traumatisation, identify new occupation for the mother and prioritise medical assistance to the girl and her education.
â€œThe good thing is that her parent is alive and willing to participate in rehabilitating her. If she insists on taking her back, we shall give them conditions they should follow and work on their shortfalls,â€ he added.
One of the police officers, who attended to her case, said the man claimed to have been with his â€˜wifeâ€™ for five years.
He expressed frustration with the court, particularly South Lunzu Magistrateâ€™s Court, which he claimed gives bail to such people who end up terrorising the victim and their families once back on the streets.