Zimbabwe women’s football coach in custody after indecent assault claim

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London – The coach of the Zimbabwe women’s football team has been remanded in police custody after being accused of indecent assault against a female member of staff during an international tournament.

Shadreck Mlauzi, who was reappointed as coach at the end of last month having previously guided Zimbabwe to the 2016 Olympics, was arrested on Tuesday after returning to Harare from the Council of Southern Africa Football Association (Cosafa) women’s championship in South Africa.

It is understood a complaint was made with police in Zimbabwe by a female staff member on her return there.

She has made a number of allegations, including that Mlauzi invited her to his hotel room on Saturday 26 September, forcibly grabbed her shoulders and “tried to kiss her without her consent”, according to the complaint seen by the Guardian.

“The accused further demanded to have his body massaged via a WhatsApp call and asked for sexual intimacy,” it continues.

Mlauzi is alleged to have again asked the female staff member to come to his room for a massage on Monday 4 October.

She also claims that he “grabbed her buttocks” the next day after instructing her to come to his room and that Mlauzi “started harassing” her after Zimbabwe’s victory over Lesotho in their opening match the following day.

She reported the allegations to the Cosafa safeguarding officer.

Mlauzi appeared in court on Tuesday charged with indecent assault and has been remanded in custody until his bail hearing on Wednesday. He has not commented on the allegations.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) confirmed last week that it was investigating a member of the senior women’s coaching team over allegations of sexual misconduct against a female colleague.

She is said to have serious concerns over Zifa’s handling of the claims, with Mlauzi having remained in the same hotel as her throughout their stay in South Africa.

Reports in Zimbabwe last week had named Mlauzi as the coach under investigation and he was not on the touchline for Zimbabwe’s semi-final defeat by Zambia, which he watched from the stands.

He returned to the dugout for the third-place playoff defeat by Mozambique on Sunday.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association has received a report of misconduct amongst members of the senior women’s technical team,” read a Zifa statement last week.

“The trip is accompanied by a highly qualified safeguarding officer who is on the ground to look into the matter. The association takes a dim view of the matter and is currently carrying out independent investigations to get to the bottom of the allegations. The public is reminded that this is a sensitive subject and that they should not take unfounded steps that could compromise the investigations.”

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