WHEN President Emmerson Mnangagwa in May this year appended his signature pardoning serving prisoners, a sharp dagger was pierced into the hearts of a Murewa family.
75 kilometers away from the capital Harare, the pain of the harrowing experiences from four years came back.
A source of anguish and misery was released back into society when wounds were still far from healing.
Bobby Makaza, a distant relative, raped a 10-year-old girl leaving her family shell shocked and shattered by the horrendous incident.
“We had gone to church. This man came and lured the young girl into the bushes that is when he raped her when she was 10 years old. According to her narration Makaza threatened to kill her if she said what he had done to her,” said the mother.
The violation of the girl in Makaza’s hands was a turning point for the worst in her life.
Barely close to finishing her primary education, she was expelled from her school.
“The incident affected her life badly. We barely recognise her. Her behaviour changed since that unfortunate day. She was expelled from school as the headmaster and teachers registered their displeasure at the way she was carrying herself. I would find condoms and match sticks in her bag which I think was now using to smoke,” the mother told NewZimbabwe.com as she broke into tears.
They are tears of suppressed emotions, heart wounds that are still fresh.
“Before the incident, she was good. She was someone I would count on with a bright future ahead of her but she fell apart,” she said.
Makaza was consequently sentenced to 18 years in prison for rape with two being suspended by the court on condition of good behaviour.
The 59-year-old served four years in prison before Mnangagwa pardoned him among 4000 inmates that were released under the presidential amnesty.
The pardon was meant to decongest the country’s overcrowded prisons.
Upon his release from prison, with a smile surrounded by white beard, Makaza could not hide his joy, commending Mnangagwa for freeing him before serving his full sentence.
“Ichokwadi ndokuendada uku. Haa Mnangagwa huchi baba. Huchi murume uyu. Haa ini ndiri right. Mnangagwa huchi chaihwo,” said Makaza in a video which would go viral on social media.
His release stoked anger across the nation with many questioning the basis when he had not even completed a half of his sentence.
The victim’s father says his family was shocked by Makaza’s short stay behind bars.
“We were shocked by the amnesty. We thought that he would serve years that he had been sentenced to. He is going around telling people that i was wrongfully arrested something which does not sit well with me,” said the father of the child.
Makaza’s release is currently being challenged by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) seeking to overturn his clemency.
“ZLHR has demanded an explanation from Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) over the irregular circumstances which led to the release of a convicted rapist from Harare Central Prison under a recent presidential amnesty order.
“The 59-year-old Bobby Makaza, who resides in Murehwa in Mashonaland East province, was released from Harare Central Prison on 19 May 2023 under a presidential amnesty declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on 12 May 2023,” read the statement from ZLHR.
The victim’s family hopes justice will be delivered.
“I had once thought of forgiving him but the issue of him going around bragging about his release and claiming that he was wrongfully arrested pains me a lot. I thought he would come and ask for forgiveness from us,” said the father.
*Names have been withheld to protect the identity of the victim