By Bruce Ndlovu
Jazz songbird Dudu Manhenga has revealed that life was not rosy for her after her release from prison, as she was rejected by business partners as she got a taste of the stigma that ex-convicts face after their release from jail.
Manhenga was in 2013 convicted of culpable homicide for causing the death of a motorcyclist in an accident in 2010. Initially sentenced to 18 months in prison, the sentence was wholly suspended with the artiste paying a $1 000 fine after a short stay at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.
Manhenga, now a fully fledged pastor, has been keeping a low profile since her release, avoiding all media since the infamous episode that threatened to derail her life. In an interview on Capitalk FM radio this week, Manhenga revealed that she was given the cold shoulder by companies who felt that associating with her would spoil their corporate image.
“There’s this big company in the country that used to give me business to the extent that my brand had become synonymous with theirs because I was performing at most of their events. I was booked to do a certain event with them and the event was coming two weeks after my release. So when I came back as a good businesswoman I followed up on my client. So when I asked if we’re still on for that event they said no, their board sat down and decided to cancel,” Manhenga said.
Manhenga said the rejection by companies she thought she had a good working relationship with made her realise the kind of stigma prisoners face.
“If I was treated that way for the time that I spent there, imagine a person that has been there ten or 15 years. I came back and people cancelled contracts. I was supposed to be doing a campaign for a certain company and we had already done photos for it.
“When we got into the contract we had already told them that we’re in court and there’s an issue that could bring publicity and they said thank you for declaring that upfront. But when I came back they said sorry, we’ve changed our minds,” she said.
Manhenga said she was still getting inquisitive looks from people whenever she was at public events.
“So in certain places when I get a platform before I speak I mention the prison thing just to break the ice,” she said.
Manhenga also said being sent to prison had been a relief as she had grown tired of being dragged to court.
“For me it was like finally I can get this thing behind me because it had hung over our family for too long. You would get a phone call from the police telling you to come to court or that court had been postponed. Being out of prison became more of a prison than prison itself. Having it hanging over you was worse than being taken in.
“We made peace with the family (of the victim) but we also needed to make peace with the State because when someone loses their life it becomes the responsibility of the State,” she said. The Sunday News