The mother of a preteen girl who was raped by an old man has approached the courts seeking his return to prison after he was released through President Mnangagwa’s amnesty.
Bobby Makaza was convicted of raping a preteen girl and had served four years of a 16-year jail sentence when he was released. He was amongst 4000 pardoned nationwide.
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Makaza rose to prominence when he trended in an online video praising President Mnangagwa.
“Mnangagwa is honey, my friend. Mnangagwa is sweet,” the man yelled as he attracted the attention of television news cameras at Harare Central Prison in the capital city.
But what at first seemed to be an old guy receiving a second chance at life has changed into a far more problematic situation for the country.
The victim’s mother then launched a lawsuit against the president, the prisons service, and Makaza, hoping to have him returned to jail due to the terrible effects it has had on their family.
The fact that Makaza’s face is almost everywhere on Zimbabwean social media has only served to worsen the problem. Videos of him jubilantly celebrating his release and praising the president have gone viral on TikTok and Twitter, and his description of Mnangagwa as “honey” and “sweet” has even come to serve as a catchphrase.
Social justice advocates are outraged by the way the convicted rapist of a child has been openly shown and are concerned about the bigger picture as they see him turn into a source of entertainment.
According to the activists, this is an unsettling example of how the nation’s issues with sexual assault against women and girls are often not taken as seriously as they should be.
“It’s troubling that as a society, we take this as a joke,” said Tendai Mbofana, director at the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice nongovernmental organization. “What this shows about our society is that we have lost our moral compass when we consider cases of sexual violence against young girls as a joke.”
A television team followed Makaza back to his hometown after his release, where his victim, who is now 15 years old, still resides. They interviewed him and caught him declaring, “Life is sweet,” and punching the air with joy.
The mother of the victim said in court documents, which cannot be published to protect the victim, that since Makaza returned, their lives had been a nightmare made worse by his proximity. The mother claimed that he was even wandering around bragging about his freedom.
“He makes sure that my daughter hears that it’s him and that there is nothing she can do about it,” the mother said in her court papers.
Additionally, she claimed to have seen some social media photos featuring the man who sexually assaulted her daughter laughing. Her daughter is once again traumatised.