A Zimbabwean man who married and impregnated a 14-year-old now wants to marry a nine-year-old after his wife died during child birth. The baby is alive.
Earlier this week, reports of a 14-year-old girl who died while giving birth at Johanne Marange church shrine in Bocha, Manicaland, sent a wave of anger among Zimbabwean citizens and girl-child movements.
Memory Machaya died on July 15 giving birth to a baby boy at a shrine. She was married to Evans Momberume and was allegedly buried within two hours without informing the police.
The family’s spokesperson, Alice Mabika, said they believed the death could have been avoided had they taken her to a hospital.
She also said they were forced not to speak of the incident and were not allowed to mourn their daughter.
Although the incident is still fresh and the child’s family is still in mourning, there are fears Momberume could be given Memory’s nine-year-old sister as a “replacement” under a Shona custom known as chigadzamapfihwa.
“What is now worrying are reports that the husband is expecting to be given the deceased’s 9-year-old sister in marriage. He was yet to pay lobola for the deceased and the family wanted to meet us to pay something on the burial day and we turned down their request.
How could we receive lobola on the day they tormented us by denying us access to the burial?” said Mabika.
According to the deceased’s aunt, Angelina Machaba, the baby is in good health and getting enough milk donated by family members.
Following a public outcry, police said they were investigating the circumstances of her death.
Inspector Luxson Chananda, spokesperson of the Manicaland province police said, “Police are investigating the case of a 14-year-old woman said to have died while giving birth at a shrine in Bocha. Preliminary investigations so far have shown that the death was never reported to any of the police stations.”