OTHER than murder and rape, it was the most heinous crime a 24-year-old girl could be accused of: using a syringe to draw her own HIV infected blood and injecting a two-year-old boy, the son of her new boyfriend with another woman.
In an instant, Harare model Tafadzwa Mushunje’s life was turned upside down after she was arrested and charged with deliberately transmitting HIV to the toddler and assault for allegedly making the boy drink her urine.
Her face was plastered on the front pages of newspapers and sent around the world on the internet.
Except it was all not true! Yesterday, Mushunje left the Harare Magistrates Court a free woman after the Prosecutor General’s Office withdrew charges following the release of medical tests showing that neither she nor the child was HIV positive.
Mushunje was arrested after the boy’s mother, Sihle Tracy Harry, went to the police claiming that she had left the tot with its father, Colin Kanonge, who was in the company of Mushunje. The boy had been returned to her with “strange marks”.
She told investigators that she had received information from a friend, pointing her to a link on a notorious and highly defamatory sex and sleaze website called Musvo Zimbabwe, which claimed that “Mushunje assaulted the child whenever his father left the minor with her.”
The website added: “When the father was away, Mushunje drew HIV infected blood and injected the child… She beats the child saying return to your mother and makes him drink her urine.”
It was after reading these claims, said prosecutors, that Harry — who describes herself on the internet as “a Nyasarand (someone originally from Malawi) and not a mukharadi (mixed race)” — linked the report to the marks on the child.
Astonishingly, police went on to arrest Mushunje even before they could establish if indeed she was HIV positive, and that she had indeed infected the child with the virus that causes AIDS.
No other evidence, including the syringe allegedly used, or injection marks on the child, was produced for prosecutors before charges were filed.
The Prosecutor General’s Office could still have declined to lay charges, but the case went to court where it collapsed spectacularly yesterday with Mushunje being left to pick up the pieces — her name and reputation well and truly in the dump.
Top Harare lawyer Jonathan Samkange last night told The Chronicle that Mushunje was entitled to sue the girl’s mother for malicious prosecution to repair her reputation. “She has a right to sue for damages that will compensate her for the mental torture she went through before she was acquitted,” Samkange said.
“Stories which have been generated about her must have forced her colleagues, family, friends and relatives to look at her with horror thus she is entitled to psychological and psychiatric treatment fees.”
Samkange said the case was not a prima facie — accepted as guilty until proved otherwise — and Mushunje could now sue whoever initiated the prosecution.
“Somehow, the police and the prosecutor can’t be sued as they’re not experts or judges to have stopped the matter from going into court,” the lawyer added.-Chronicle