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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 14:15 GMT
Zimbabwe female athlete 'was man'
Zimbabwe's 4X400 relay team
Ms Sithole may be asked to compete in men's events in future
One of Zimbabwe's leading junior athletes, who has won several gold medals in women's events, is really a man, police say.

Samukeliso Sithole, 17, has been charged with impersonation.

At her court appearance, she insisted that she was a woman, despite a doctor's report to the contrary.

Ms Sithole said she was born with both male and female sexual organs and a traditional healer had made the penis disappear but it had since regrown.

She told the court that the penis had returned because the healer had not been fully paid for his services.

She said that she had already arranged to pay the healer on 3 March, the day her trial is set to start, and so she expected her penis to disappear once more, according to the state-run Herald newspaper.

Multi-talented

The state prosecutor said he wasn't sure whether to keep Ms Sithole in men's or women's remand cells.

The BBC's Steve Vickers in Harare says that there has been a great deal of interest in the case with radio phone-ins full of speculation.

One caller said that Ms Sithole had won gold medals for Zimbabwe and so should not be punished.

The case came to light when somebody told one of Ms Sithole's friends and fellow athletes, Melita Mudondiro, that she was really a man.

Ms Mudondiro had undressed in front of Ms Sithole in the belief that she was a woman and lodged a formal complaint to the police.

The multi-talented athlete has competed in regional tournaments in triple jump, javelin and shot-putt, winning several gold medals.

The National Athletics Association of Zimbabwe is yet to comment on the matter.


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