A 23-year-old inmate serving his sentence at Khami Maximum Prison has urged gender-based organisations to disseminate information that educates the boy child on the dangers of sexual offences.
Miracle Sibanda told a B-Metro news crew that a lot of serving young boys had been convicted of sex-related offences. The offences were on the rise because most of these boys were not getting information that educates them on the dangers of committing such offences in society.
“When I was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of rape I still remember it vividly that I was only 19 years old and with that judgement in mind I realised that my future had been seriously affected by this lengthy sentence.
“The calculations that I made after having been handed the sentence showed that I would only be going back to join my family at the age of 39 and my age mates would have developed in different ways,”he said.
The inmate, having been raised by a poor single mother, dropped out of school, when he was in Form Two due to non-availability of funds and by then he was 19 years old. The situation at home forced him to start looking for part-time jobs in the community so that he could assist his mother who was already struggling financially.
“Soon after dropping out of school people in our community started offering me part-time jobs so that in return I would get some money to help my mother, who really needed my support in sustaining our small family.”
“While working in our community I was attracted by my neighbour’s daughter and as children from the same community we never spoke about our age difference. Instead we just fell in love,”he said.
Sibanda said after three months of dating he initiated that he would be coming to sleep over at his girlfriend’s place and the two agreed on the matter thus he started being sneaked into the house by his girlfriend as she was in agreement with the whole issue.
“When I proposed the idea to my girlfriend of sleeping over at her house she agreed and she was the one who arranged on the logistics of sneaking me into her parent’s house.
“Our relationship continued growing stronger each and every day and in the eighth month one of my girlfriend’s relatives was informed that I was sneaking into their home. The relative who was informed about this issue decided to set a trap and he sneaked into my girlfriend’s room and he found us having sex and when I discovered that someone was in the room I managed to escape through the window,” he said.
The inmate said by escaping through the window he thought everything was now under control. Little did he know that more trouble was coming his way as the relatives of his girlfriend decided to report the matter to the police and a docket with three counts of rape was opened against him.
“When I escaped going home I never thought something big was coming my way but after a few days I saw police officers at home looking for me on three counts of rape.
“I told the police that we were in love and they never disputed that but their argument was that I had slept with an under-age girl who was only 15 years old,”he said.
Sibanda said the issue was investigated and later taken to court where the magistrate argued that he had slept with a minor and from the hearing it was then concluded that he had to go to prison for 20 years.
“I tried to explain myself to the magistrate by it was already too late. Instead they argued that I was taking advantage of the minor and thus 20 years was passed against me. Ever since I was born I had never been told that age counts when it comes to love.
“While in prison I was told that there are organisations that educate the boy child on sexual offences but to be honest with you I have never met those people and if I had been taught on such issues I don’t think I was going to find myself in such a place,” he said.
The inmate said while in prison rehabilitation officers enrolled him under the poultry project so that he acquires skills for future use upon completing his jail term. These skills are meant to assist him since he never continued with his education while in prison.
“From the poultry project that I am currently in charge of, I am exposed to a lot of technical expertise that involve the rearing of chickens and I intend to use these skills to run my own projects back home. These skills will definitely keep me busy from re-offending in our communities as they say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
“At the moment we have got two chicken batches, one is two weeks old and the other one is four weeks old and we sell these chickens to nearby communities and even officers who are stationed at Khami Complex, “he said.
The inmate said communities had a greater challenge to partner with Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service in such projects as a way of promoting their rehabilitation for their successful re-integration back to society.
“My coming to prison was a mistake considering that I never got proper guidance so to avoid re-offending I would like to urge the community to forgive me and be ready to work with me on such projects so that I can take good care of my mother.
“And to my mother, I am very sorry for disappointing you and I promise to make it up to you,”he said.
Station rehabilitation officer Leonard Matsvange said it was sad that the inmate had been brought to prison because of lack of knowledge but with the skills that he was gaining while in prison he was going to contribute positively towards the development of the nation.