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Prison service defends ‘unlawful’ release of convicted rapist Bobby Makaza

The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) has justified the release of Bobby Makaza (60) a rape convict who violated a nine-year-old girl in 2018 and then got released under president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s amnesty order declared on May 12.

Makaza’s release attracted a backlash from the civic community and the opposition CCC party who felt that the presidential amnesty should not extend to rape convicts they asserted were still “unrehabilitated.”

The minor’s parents incested by Makaza’s release, through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed an application at the Harare High Court on 14 July 2023 seeking an order for the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Makaza who was convicted and sentenced to serve an effective 16 year prison term on 2 April 2019 prior to his release.

ZLHR represented by lawyers Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Paidamoyo Saurombe on behalf of the minor’s parents argued that in terms of section 12(d) as read with 13(c) of Clemency Order No.1 of 2023, Makaza being an inmate convicted of rape which is a specified offence, should have been excluded from benefiting from the presidential amnesty.

The application filed by the minor’s parents asked the High Court to declare as unlawful ZPCS’s decision to release Makaza from prison after he was convicted in 2019 and having just served a few years of his prison sentence.

ZPCS acting Commissioner-General, Shepherd Mpofu, in his opposing affidavit defended the release of Makaza from prison primarily based on Clemency Order Number 1 of 2023 in which full remission of sentence was granted to prisoners with 60 years and above regardless of offence save for those who were sentenced to life imprisonment, death, or those convicted of public violence.

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He stated that the minor’s parents must not be aggrieved by the release from prison of Makaza on the strength of Clemency Order Number 1 of 2023 as this was promulgated in terms of the law and ought to be respected by every law abiding citizen of Zimbabwe.

Mpofu said the minor and her parents need professional counseling in order to understand the essence of the crime, conviction, sentence and release of Makaza.

Tino Machakaire, the Deputy Sports and Arts Minister, was recently caught in a storm after a photo of him and Makaza attending a Zanu PF rally went viral on social media and after numerous local media sites reported that Machakaire had pledged to purchase Makaza a house.

Machakaire disputed the claims that he pledged to buy Makaza a house, begging with the media to cease spreading lies.

“I would like to address the recent allegations that I have pledged to build a house for Bobby Makaza. I would like to state that these allegations are completely unfounded and misleading. I have never met the individual in question nor did I commit to such a project.

“I would like to plead with members of the media fraternity to desist from peddling falsehoods as these cause harm to those involved. It is crucial and important to verify information before jumping to conclusions and spreading misinformation.

“It is essential to emphasize that as individuals, we do not have the right to judge or condemn others. It is important to recognize the dignity and importance of each person whether victim or the convicted,” said Machakaire.