She was hoping to spend three hours in her maize field and return home by 10am to help her 10-year-old granddaughter pound some maize. Return home she did, but she had neither the time nor the energy to pound the maize.
She had excruciating physical and emotional pain to contend with, after two men took turns to rape her non-stop from about 7:30am to 1pm.
Because the law does not allow us to identify victims of rape, we will call the woman Anaphiri.
The horrific fate befell 80-year-old Anaphiri on Tuesday, August 27, in her village in the Kirk Range area in Mwanza.
“My granddaughter did not want me to go to the garden. She wanted me to help her pound the maize. I told her that I would help out with the task when I was back from the garden around 10 o’clock in the morning.
“About 20 minutes after I began tilling the land, somebody pushed me and I fell to the ground. Initially, I thought it was my granddaughter, but then I realised that it was a strange person.
“I asked the man what wrong I had done for him to treat me like that, but he did not respond. As the man stood by me, his colleague sat on a rock some distance from my garden.
“After lifting myself up, the man held and tied me to a tree with a rope. Then he used my dress to gag me and cover my eyes. But I pushed the cloth a bit, so I could see what was happening,” said Anaphiri, who has 12 children, the last born aged 25.
She said after some time, the two men undressed her and took turns to rape her.
“While one was raping me, the other man would sit on the rock waiting for a turn. I felt a lot of pain, but it was difficult to free myself from the situation. I could not shout because they stuffed some cloth in my mouth and covered it.
“Later in the afternoon, about 1pm, one of the men asked his accomplice to free me. They untied me from the tree and disappeared,” said Anaphiri, who uses one eye, which also has problems.
The ordeal also left her with bruises in the face after the assailants hit her in the face while gagging her.
She told Nation on Sunday on August 31 that she reported the matter to her group village head who arranged for her to be examined at Mwanza District Hospital.
Tests conducted at the hospital confirmed that Anaphiri had been raped, according to the chief and Mwanza Police.
The group village head said he mobilised members of community policing to hunt down the suspects, but they could not trace them.
“Based on the descriptions of the men that [Anaphiri] gave us, we have a picture of the suspects. There are reports that they fled to Mozambique,” he said.
Mwanza Police spokesperson Victoria Chirwa said officers are investigating the matter.
“The community gave us names of the suspects. We will not mention them to avoid compromising the investigations. We are sure that we will arrest them,” said Chirwa.
Anaphiri’s village is located along the border with Mozambique, about 50 kilometres from the district headquarters. Because of its mountainous topography, it is difficult to reach the area even by bicycle or motorcycle.
Although Anaphiri’s maize field is only 100 metres from the village, access to the garden is difficult because of the terrain. The isolated nature of the garden’s location made it an ideal site for the crime.
One of Anaphiri’s children, whose name we have also withheld for legal reasons, appealed to well-wishers to help his mother seek treatment.
“She has wounds in the face. It is very difficult to reach the hospital because of the distance,” he said.
Rape and defilement have become a scourge in the country that police concede they are struggling to contain.
Inspector General of Police Lot Dzonzi told the media in 2012 that while police are making headway in fighting other crimes, rape and defilement are defying their efforts to win the battle.
Principal Secretary for Gender Dr Mary Shawa expressed outrage at the experience the woman was subjected to.
“Why, why?… What is happening? Is the grandmother still alive? I am shocked. I don’t know what to tell you now,” said Shawa, who asked police to move with speed and arrest the suspects.
Lawyer and feminist Seodi White also said she was appalled by the horror Anaphiri went through and the rise in rape cases in the country.
“That can’t be true; raping an 80-year-old woman! I am speechless. Surely, justice should prevail for this woman.
“Police should pursue whoever did this to the woman and bring them to book. As a nation, it is high time we seriously did something about the problem,” said White.
Gender activist Jessie Kabwila told Nation on Sunday in December 2012 that patriarchy is the cause of the rising cases of rape and defilement in the country.
Kabwila said because of patriarchy, men view women as inferior and, therefore, sex objects to be abused at will.