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MAPHALA, LOVE RIVAL SOB IN COURT... Phiri beats underage sex charges

Thandeka Moyo Court Reporter LORRAINE Maphala left court sobbing yesterday after coming face-to-face with a teenager who has been bedding h...

Thandeka Moyo Court Reporter
LORRAINE Maphala left court sobbing yesterday after coming face-to-face with a teenager who has been bedding her husband for more than two years.
The former Miss Zimbabwe, 27, welled up even as Bulawayo prosecutors dropped charges against her businessman husband, Sonny Phiri, who had been charged with having sex with Rumbidzai Sibanda when she was just 15.

Sibanda, now 18, told prosecutors she was in fact 16 – the statutory age of consent – when she romped with the three-times married Nissi Finance owner.

Her testimony in front of the area public prosecutor, Simon Muleya, effectively dashed any hopes of a successful prosecution of Phiri for having sex with a minor, dealing a blow to the teenager’s father, Headman Sibanda, who filed a police complaint last week.

And in incredible scenes, the teenager broke down as she and Phiri – after meeting prosecutors separately – walked down a corridor to leave the Tredgold building which houses the Bulawayo magistrates’ courts.

Phiri, elegantly dressed in a black suit, wrapped his arms around her as the teenager – who opted for a black dress and red jacket for the court date – melted in his embrace.

Phiri, who appeared keen to shield his mistress from waiting reporters, left his wife and lawyer, Lison Ncube, behind as he made a brisk exit.

Maphala, who had arrived at the court building wearing a brave face, suddenly had a meltdown of her own as the full extent of her husband’s betrayal began to sink in.

Sonny Phiri leaves the magistrates’ courts with his mistress Rumbidzai Sibanda in tow yesterday
The 2005 Miss Zimbabwe winner, spotting a black top, white jacket and black pants, hid her tears behind an oversized pair of dark glasses before jumping into a waiting car.

Phiri, meanwhile, escorted his mistress to another car which sped off.
The businessman, who was in 2003 accused of having sex with an under-age congregant at a church he led before the case was reportedly settled out of court, turned round to our snappers and begged them not to take pictures.

“You guys covered our wedding [in November last year]. Why are you persecuting us now?” he asked.
Bulawayo’s top prosecutor Muleya confirmed Phiri’s case would not go through to court on the strength of Rumbidzai’s testimony before him.

“All I can say is that we’ll not be proceeding to court with this matter anymore. Rumbidzai just stated that she started having sex with Phiri when she turned 16. Therefore, we’ve no case against him. There’s no evidence to prove he slept with a minor,” Muleya said.

Our sister paper, Sunday News, broke the news of Phiri’s three-year affair with Rumbidzai behind Maphala’s back.
Her furious father, accusing Phiri of psychologically manipulating his college student daughter, shopped him to the police leading to his arrest on Monday this week.

Maphala, who physically fought with one of Phiri’s mistresses last year after uncovering an office romance, is said to be determined to save her marriage to the love rat, but friends say his philandering ways are taking a toll on her.

She recently confronted Rumbidzai — who lives less than a kilometre from their Selbourne Park mansion — telling her in a text message: “I pray that God protects you and blesses you with many years and that you may have a husband of your own so that you feel how it is to have your husband cheat on you and have small girls disrespect you.”