In a dramatic turn of events, Shadreck Mlauzi, the coach of Zimbabwe’s national women’s football team, the Mighty Warriors, appeared in Harare’s court yesterday to defend himself against charges of indecent assault and assault. The hearing, presided over by Harare magistrate Mrs. Ethel Chichera, saw Mlauzi presenting a detailed defense narrative, emphasizing the virtual nature of his relationship with the complainant.
Mlauzi described to the court a “predominantly virtual relationship” with the complainant, which they hoped to develop into a love affair. He stressed that their first physical meeting occurred on September 26, at the start of a training camp at Pandhari Hotel in Glen Lorne, Harare. According to Mlauzi, the initial interaction on that day was brief and formal, with a conversation lasting until around 9 pm.
The defense highlighted Mlauzi’s recent personal loss, noting that he was mourning his father’s death, which occurred on September 15 and was laid to rest on September 21. This period of mourning, according to Mlauzi, made it unlikely for him to engage in the alleged conduct.
Furthermore, Mlauzi suggested that the allegations might be rooted in vindictiveness, possibly stemming from “constructive criticism” he had given the complainant during a team meeting. He maintained that their communication was cordial up until the incidents in question.
The state, however, presented a different account. It alleged that on September 26, while the Mighty Warriors were camping at Pandhari Lodge for the upcoming Cosafa Women’s Championship, Mlauzi invited the complainant to his room under the pretext of discussing the training program. It was during this encounter that Mlauzi allegedly made unwanted advances, including an attempt to kiss the complainant without her consent.
Further allegations surfaced from an incident on October 4 in South Africa, where Mlauzi reportedly instructed the complainant to visit his room for a massage and later made inappropriate physical contact while handing over money for training equipment.
The case has sparked significant attention in the sports community, raising concerns about athlete safety and the conduct of sports officials. The trial continues as more details are expected to emerge.
Shadreck Mlauzi, a renowned figure in Zimbabwean football, has been at the helm of the Mighty Warriors during some of their most significant achievements. His current legal battles have cast a shadow over his career, with the outcome of this case likely to have far-reaching implications for his professional and personal life.
The COSAFA Safeguarding Officer has been involved following the complaint, indicating the seriousness with which the matter is being handled. As the case unfolds, the sports world watches closely, awaiting the court’s decision on this sensitive and high-profile matter.