High Court Rules Beating Children is Not Criminal, Woman Walks Free After Beating Child to Death
The Zimbabwe High Court has made a controversial ruling that beating children is permissible under the law and cannot be classified as assault or a criminal offence. This ruling comes after a mother, Yeukai Graham Mutero, beat her 12-year-old son to death in January 2022.
Mutero was facing a murder charge, but Justice Munamato Mutevedzi ruled that she cannot be blamed for her son’s death because she assaulted him as a means of disciplining him. The ruling has sparked outrage and set a dangerous precedent for children.
According to reports, Mutero’s son, Desmond Kuzivakwashe Matsatsi, was allegedly a problem child who always got into trouble with neighbours and relatives. On the day of his death, Desmond courted his mother’s ire when it was revealed that he had joined a Nyau cult. Mutero allegedly tied Desmond to the base of a bed with the help of her other son Ocean Mutero and proceeded to beat him with a Mulberry stick and a fan belt all over his body. Desmond later died from injuries sustained during the beating, leading to the arrest of his mother and brother.
During her trial, Mutero pleaded not guilty, stating that she had no intention to kill her son and was just administering corporal punishment as a means of disciplining him for his wayward behaviour. Justice Mutevedzi agreed with Mutero, stating that any “reasonable parent” who believes in corporal punishment would have done the same thing. He also dismissed the charge of culpable homicide against Mutero and her son, saying that the punishment meted out to the deceased remained within the permissible limits and that there was no way Mutero could have reasonably foreseen the possibility of death.
The ruling has sparked outrage among child rights activists, who fear that it will embolden parents to use violence as a means of disciplining their children.