Trans-woman and husband arrested in Zimbabwe

Update: The Association of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe says this story was fabricated by the government of Robert Mugabe.

Police in Zimbabwe arresting a couple for illegally selling South African currency when they got a surprise: the wife was actually biologically male. According to news reports, she revealed this fact when the police summoned a female officer to perform a body search.

The reports of the arrest are written in dry and formal language, but it’s not hard to imagine how humiliated and scared this trans woman was during the arrest. From the Herald Online:

Detectives from CID Law and Order arrested Ability Chatira Mpofu (24) of Shurugwi and Blessing Chauke (28) of Chiredzi at Waverley Beerhall. Chauke was putting on a white skirt, female skin tight [leggings], earrings and a wig.

“Our officers tried to call a female officer to search Blessing Chauke who was dressed in all-female apparel,” he said.

Chauke then confessed that he was a man in female clothes before showing the detectives his male organs to prove his claims.


According to the reports, the couple had married in South Africa—where same-sex marriage is legal—in 2011, while working illegally as game keepers in Peters Town. After returning to Zimbabwe, Mpofu had paid a bride price to Chauke’s family and the two had moved into Mpofu’s home.

The couple was arrested at a beer hall, but the police searched their house after they were detained. “A search at the house led to the recovery of Lemonvet and Carolite skin lightening creams, a black wig, a white dress, black long skin tight pants and beards among other things,” Herald Online reported, also publishing their address as well as the location of Mpofu’s family’s home. They also found 1,400 Rand, the currency they were suspected of selling in the first place.

Mpofu and Chauke now face sodomy charges. Their fate is likely serious, as the government has been cracking down on LGBT activists in recent weeks. Forty-four people were arrested on August 12 during a raid on the headquarters of the group Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe.

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