Leading the pack lobbying for castration was the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Ms Nomalanga Mzilikazi Khumalo, who also is Umzingwane MP.
Recently the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Dr Olivia Muchena, told the House of Assembly that castration was an option that should be “seriously” considered for those who rape minors.
“Yes, we need to seriously look at the option of castration for those who rape minors. How do you rape a child? It should be treated like first-degree murder and have castration as part of punishment,” she was quoted as saying at the time. Ms Khumalo said drastic measures should be adopted to deal with rapists.
“Almost daily we read reports that so and so has been raped and in most cases children have been the most affected because they cannot protect themselves from these evil people,” she said.
The trend has been the same over the years. I therefore believe that castrating these rapists is the way to go so that we send a loud and clear message to those contemplating to rape to refrain from the evil act.”
However, her call did not go down well with male participants, among them the Member of Parliament for Luveve, Mr Reggie Moyo, who felt that the proposed punishment was “too harsh”.
“I believe that what you are suggesting is unheard of because we firstly need to look at what caused the rape as there are many underlying reasons, among them the mental state of the perpetrator,” said Mr Moyo.
“Sometimes it would have been an instruction from a traditional healer.”
However, the response further fuelled the debate, with Ms Khumalo saying that men should learn to control themselves.
“If the truth be told lina obaba you can’t control yourself. How can anyone give a reason for raping? The worst part is that you rape minors and infect them with HIV/Aids, meaning that if the trend continues we would not have an HIV/Aids-free generation,” she said. Ms Khumalo said traditional healers should also be held accountable for peddling lies about curing diseases.
“Many rape cases that happen are due to lies told by traditional healers that if a person wants to be cured of a particular disease he should have sexual intercourse with a minor,” she said.
The Member of Parliament for Mangwe, Mr Edward Mkhosi, then came in and said castrating rapists was not the solution. He said research should be conducted to establish the cause, a view supported by an unidentified traditional leader who said that for the problem to be effectively dealt with, there was need for non-governmental organisations to take their campaigns to communities.
We can spend hours talking and wasting resources but the problem is that the message is not being taken to the grassroots, let’s go out to the rural areas because this thing of holding workshops that affect the public at large at hotels does not help,” said Mr Mkhosi.
Among the participants were Umguza Senator Lot Mbambo, Tsholotsho Senator Believe Gaule, Chief Gampu Sithole of Tsholotsho and the Provincial Magistrate for Matabeleland North, Mr John Masimba.