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Lawyer’s kind heart lightens dark moments

Philanthropist, businesswoman, legal practitioner and human rights advocate aptly describes Mrs Riana Moss, who has made great impact on the lives of many prison inmates and others in need.

Mrs Riana Moss
Mrs Riana Moss

Mrs Moss, being a lawyer, has keen interest in the welfare of prison inmates and she has been instrumental in mobilising donations under the River of Life Church.

The church, in which Mrs Moss is a member, has set up an outreach programme called The Michael Project at Chikurubi Female Prison that raises donations to cater for the needs of incarcerated women and children.

Mrs Moss, being the donations officer for the project, finds time to interact with prisoners every Wednesdays, sharing the word of God.

She also spearheads initiatives towards donations for basic toiletries for female hampers, pregnancy hampers, baby and toddler hampers including sanitary pads, soap, Vaseline, nappies, newborn clothes, wrappers and blankets, and toddler clothes and shoes.

The outreach programme runs a pre-school for children living with their jailed parents.

Mrs Moss said her philanthropic works were driven by love and passion to help.

“The Chikurubi pre-school run by River of Life ensures young children enjoy teachings and hearty meals in situations where the family would not have taken responsibility for the children.

“It is a good pre-school outside of the lock up area. The children are carefree and always wear happy faces as they laugh and play outside.

“So my story has come full circle. Under threat of erroneous imprisonment, there was no point in withering under the injustice and unfairness. The solution is simple. When we face our daily gauntlet we should all be impassioned do our very best in our own spheres of influence to make a real difference! Lip service is not good enough. I hope to inspire others into agape love,” she said.

During her prison visits, Mrs Moss discovered cases of refugee families from other countries who were detained at Chikurubi for immigration breaches awaiting deportation.

She decried conditions under which the families were living before calling for the authorities to treat them differently from real criminals.

Mrs Moss broke down as she narrates the case of a DRC family that ended up at Chikurubi Maximum Security prison after fleeing their country following the violent killing of their father.

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A widow, identified as Sandra, had to seek refuge at Tongogara Refugee Camp before being arrested together with her remaining family members.

“I am impassioned by their new life trajectory which has been set by a system which exposed their entire family to the criminal way of life. Systems should understand the real plight and should have helped Sandra out of her desperate situation. Instead she was sent back to DRC and I wonder if she is still alive. 1 Timothy 8-9: ‘…the Law is good if it is used as it should be used. It must be remembered, of course, that [such] laws are made, not for good people, but for lawbreakers and criminals…’ Refugees should not be locked up like criminals!

They should be detained as families at a community centre until deportation,” said Mrs Moss.

Apart from being a partner at Scanlen & Holderness Legal Practitioners, Mrs Moss runs a food business, Mr Brands, which produces 19 food and beverage products including mahewu powder, instant maize porridge, soya chunks, sour milk, yoghurt and dairy juice.

She was among the top 10 businesswomen in the country in the 2018 Megafest awards.

Her company regularly donates foodstuffs to River of Life Church, which caters for at least 1,8 million orphans.

Mrs Moss co-owns Mr Brands with her husband Wayne, who commendably assisted villagers in Chimanimani and Mozambique during the Cyclone Idai disaster early this year.

Mr and Mrs Moss, through their company, donated a truckload of food to the Chimanimani victims.

Mrs Moss’ WhatsApp appeal for help to increase the donation raised $21 000 from Zimbabwean individuals with the smallest amount being just $5.

In March 2019 Mr Brands delivered the first truckload of foodstuffs to Chimanimani.

Two months later, another R100 000 was raised and Mr Brands delivered the second truckload.

Mrs Moss says she is inspired by her husband’s passion for business, his heart for people and his make-a-difference approach to life.

“February this year was a make or break month for Mr Brands. Then Cyclone Idai hit, bringing perspective to what matters in life. Our hearts bled deeply for the plight of the Chimanimani and Mozambique people. Without hesitation my husband left to assist in Chimanimani as one of the mountain bikers ascertaining accessible roads up the mountain to reach villagers.

“Weighing through chest-high rivers with bicycle on head, cycling up the mountain with 20kg of Mr Brands product in his rucksack to distribute, assessing broken bridges and roads and making reports,” she said.

Barely home a day from Chimanimani, Mr Moss left to Mozambique with his kayaks, ropes and Mr Brands food for relief efforts.

“The horror stories of the inescapable Mozambique flash flood waters evidenced by long grass hanging off top branches of trees taller than house-roof levels. He paddled kilometres down wide stretches of muddy fast-flowing rivers to ascertain accessible water-routes or road-routes to no avail. There was no leapfrog transport plan for those rivers.

“His friend an experienced kayaker’s narrowly escaped drowning that day when the powerful river tipped the kayak over in a whirl-pool which pinned him up-side-down without air as the water wash-machined him before finally spitting him out….” she said. The Herald