Last edited: January 03, 2005

GALZ Leader Charged with Sodomy

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, June 17, 1998

The Programmes Manager of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, Keith Goddard, has been charged with sodomy. The situation surrounding the case is as follows.

Mr Siphephile Vuma sent three letters to Mr Goddard starting in May last year. The first letter expressed love and affection and requested that Mr Goddard send money to him by 3rd June.

Mr Vuma sent a second letter to Mr Goddard in the second half of 1997 which claimed that sexual relations had taken place between them. In this letter, Mr Vuma requested goods and cash. Mr Goddard took this and the first letter to the police and asked them to follow up on the matter. The police did nothing.

A third and very threatening letter was sent by Mr Vuma to Mr Goddard in January 1998 accusing Mr Goddard of having sodomised him. Mr Vuma claimed goods and cash to the value of about US$2,000.00. The letter was delivered to the police.

On May 1, Mr Goddard received a visit from Sergeant Dowa of C.I.D., Harare Central Police Station. Mr Goddard was requested to come to the central police station the next day and make a formal statement of complaint against Mr Vuma for attempted extortion.

A couple of weeks later, Mr Goddard was called down to the police station. A young man was sitting in the office whom Mr Goddard was asked to identify. Mr Goddard stated that he had never seen the man in question except for one occasion when he and another man had approached him at the GALZ office. Mr Goddard said that it was shortly after this that the third letter had been sent to him. Sergeant Dowa then confirmed that the man in question was Mr Vuma (20 years old).

Mr Goddard was asked to leave the room while Mr Vuma made a statement. After some time, Mr Goddard was called back and told that he was being charged with sodomy and that Mr Vuma was claiming that this had taken place at gunpoint.

Mr Goddard has denied the charge. In a warning-and-caution statement, Mr Goddard explained that his premesis were the base for GALZ for three months around the time of the 1996 Zimbabwe International Book Fair and that he continued to do business for GALZ from his home after this date. A large number of people have had access to his home and have a detailed knowledge of the premises from which he worked until September 1997.

In court, Vuma admitted to the charge of extortion but his plea was changed to not guilty by the Magistrate who encouragd Mr Vuma to state that the goods were demanded in compensation. The trial date is set for July 27 at which Mr Goddard is ordered to appear.

On Friday 12 June, Mr Goddard, represented by Mr Derek Matyszak, appeared in court and was formally charged with sodomy. Mr Goddard was remanded out of custody and with no bail (despite the report to the contrary in the state- controlled Herald). No trial date has yet been set.

Given the surrounding circumstances of the matter, had the police been prepared to do a full investigation, these charges would have fallen away of their own accord. It would therefore seem that the case against Mr Goddard is clearly part of an overall strategy to discredit GALZ and its members.

GALZ applied to and was accepted by the World Council of Churches to participate at the Padare surrounding the World Council of Churches General Assembly which takes place in Harare at the start of December this year.

The acceptance of GALZ to participate at the WCC has stimulated a renewed and viscious hate campaign against GALZ and the gay community by the State. Recently, at the funeral of the Editor of the state-controlled Herald newspaper, President Mugabe called on the press to report negatively on homosexuality, referring to homosexuals as worse than beasts. Shortly after, in Namibia, President Mugabe claimed that everyone in Zimbabwe had rights except gays!

Renewed attacks by President Mugabe have prompted the state-controlled Sunday Mail to run articles one of which claims that GALZ is running a brothel for foreign tourists from its premesis.

The ruling government is in a precarious position. Poverty and unemployment are on the increase and civil unrest is increasing. It is quite clear that homosexuals are being used as scapegoats to divert attention from the real problems facing Zimbabwe.

Mr Goddard and GALZ intend to stand firm. GALZ will not be bullied. It is a fallacy that homosexuality is a foreign import; homosexuals exist in all strata of society in this country. Homosexuals live in fear and trepidation. Discovery that one is homosexual frequently leads to eviction from home and being shunned by family and friends. The legacy of the sodomy clause and state-sanctioned homophobia is blackmail and extortion.

The situation is becoming desperate. GALZ is renting property in the suburbs of Harare. Although the landlord has been happy to rent premises to GALZ, the recent media campaign has prompted him to give notice to GALZ. The Centre now has the option either to buy the Centre for the equivalent of US$70,000 or move out. This would be disaterous as the Centre provides the only lifeline for the lesbian and gay community in Zimbabwe and GALZ has only recently managed to get its phone number into the local telephone directory.

Although GALZ programmes are adequately supported, the legal fund has run dry, the reasons being that the cost of lawsuits is high (around US$2,500), GALZ is being forced to engage legal help more and more frequently and government still has not paid costs owing to GALZ from a case which went to court over a year ago. Mr Goddard urgently needs financial help to cover the cost of his legal fees. -- Juan May, Operations Manager, GALZ

GALZ is renting the premises which are about to be sold. We desperately need to own our own space. Contributions are being welcomed towards the purchase of our Drop-in Crisis Centre Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ)

Physical Address: 35 Colenbrander Road, Milton Park, Harare, Zimbabwe
Postal Address: Private Bag A6131, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel/fax: (int + 263-4) 741736
Crisis Line: 111 404 348

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