A HWANGE magistrate has heard that a 20-year-old woman who gave birth to a baby before dumping it in a sewer stream to be devoured by dogs, was once handed a suspended eight-month sentence for unlawfully terminating a pregnancy.
The court heard that Barbara Munenge of A28 Lwendulu in Number 1 suburb is a Form Six pupil at Hwange Government High School and her mother knew about the baby dumped on 27 May after she gave birth alone at home.
Munenge told magistrate Rangarairai Gakanje that she decided to discard the baby because an unnamed man who impregnated her had denied responsibility.
She would have had the eight months brought into effect had police charged her with unlawful termination of pregnancy as before.
However, police charged Munenge with concealing a baby after she dumped the newly born baby in a sewer stream where it was later eaten by dogs.
Munenge pleaded guilty to the charge.
“The person who made me pregnant lured me into unprotected sex saying he would marry me. He denied responsibility after I fell pregnant so I decided to terminate it because my mother is unemployed and would not have managed to take care of the baby,” said Munenge.
However, Gakanje sentenced her to an effective six months in jail.
“You are lucky not to have the eight months brought into effect. They will remain hovering over your head and if ever you terminate a pregnancy within five years they will be added to whatever sentence you will get.”
According to the State, on 27 May, Munenge was at home with her mother when she gave birth to a baby at night, wrapped it in a cloth. She placed it in a satchel before dumping it near a sewer stream passing through the suburb.
Prosecutor John Mutyakaviri said a report was made to the police on 6 June upon which investigators found the head only.
“On the 6th day of June, an anonymous letter was received to the effect that the accused person was suspected of having committed an abortion. Investigations were made leading to Munenge’s arrest,” he said.
The recovered head was taken to Hwange Colliery Hospital before being transferred to Bulawayo for post-mortem while Munenge was medically examined at St Patrick’s Hospital.