Police seized 31 used condoms with semen after a chance breakthrough when a suspect vehicle was involved in an accident in Lower Gweru.
More than a dozen attacks, thought to be for ritual purposes, have been reported mainly in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces. A few more attacks have been reported in Harare and Mashonaland West.
Midlands police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Charles Makono said officers at an accident scene had their suspicions aroused when three women, including the girlfriend of the vehicle’s driver, approached them with an odd request.
“They wanted the officers to allow them to collect a stash of used condoms which were located in the boot of the vehicle,” said Chademana.
The three women, named as Rosemary Chakwizira, 24, Sophie Nhokwara, 26, and Netsai Nhokwara, 24, all from Mkoba 4, Gweru, were immediately arrested along with the male driver on suspicion of multiple counts of indecent assault.
Now police are asking for victims to come forward to an identity parade to pick their attackers. Police also hope to match the semen to some of the victims through DNA testing.
Typically, male hitchhikers on Zimbabwe’s main highways are offered a lift. The drivers are sometimes male, but usually female.
The hitchhikers are then drugged – sometimes by having a cloth with a mystery substance pulled over the faces or through an injection – before they are driven to dark spots or safe houses where the attacks occur.
The victims are forced to be intimate with the female attackers, sometimes without protection, but where a condom is used, semen is collected.
In October last year, police chief Augustine Chihuri was forced to address the unusual crimes, warning that the rapists would be would “professionally dealt with accordingly without fear or favour”.
“Let me warn all social miscreants who are soiling the country’s social fabric, cultural norms and values by perpetrating abominable and weird activities of women sexually molesting men, sometimes at gunpoint, to stop the practices forthwith,” he warned.