Saturday, 21 August 2021

NASTY DIVORCES LAND ZIMBAS IN UK JAILS

Dr Masimba Mavaza

John Mabhureza of Northampton United Kingdom sits in a corner in prison. He has grown so thin and he is not eating well. He has reduced himself into a silent dying man.

Mabhureza’s problems started when he told his wife that he was divorcing her. “Things were not well in my marriage. I decided to call it quits. As we were going through our divorce proceedings, we remained in the same house, but using different bedrooms,” said Mabhureza.

“One early morning, I was waken up by the police. They shook me off the bed and tripped me to the floor. Before I knew it, I was in handcuffs. The officer told me that I was being charged of rape, that I had rapped my daughter who was 12.

“The police took me to the police station where I was processed and thrown in cells. Before I knew it, I was sent to prison to wait for my trial while I was in custody. The trial was conducted after ix months of waiting.

“I was brought before a jury of women and they were all white. The trial was very short. I was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.”

 Mabhureza paused with tears running down his cheeks.  He struggled to continue, but finally with a very weak voice he said: “Last week my daughter came to see me. She told me that she was sorry she lied in court. She was promised toys and monies every week. She was assured that she will be an independent woman.

“She cried as she looked at me. Her last words were she was going to kill herself if I am not released. My lawyer of choice said it will not be possible to appeal as we are late. He promised he will do his best. But now I am still here two years later.

“My wife took everything I worked for. I sit here as an example of a woman’s rage.” Mabhureza is not the only victim of a nasty divorce, many Zimbabwean men in the UK pay for their divorces with their time in prison.

Zimbabwean men have been accused of sexual offences by their wives as a weapon to get rid of them or as a result of anger. The law is mostly abused as courts are quick to believe a fake rape victim than the man.

Some Zimbabwean men have seen their dreams of prosperity tumbling down like a sand castle as they are bundled into police cars and eventually taken to prison over false accusations from their wives. In many British prisons, there are some Zimbabweans doing time for offences they never committed.

Some are serving harsh sentences for actions which were not theirs and will not otherwise constitute a crime back home.

Some are found on the wrong side of the bed and are paying for being men. But, yes, some are on the other side of the law for doing what every Zimbabwean would naturally do back home. As a result, there is a rise of Zimbabweans in British jails.

 

One possible explanation for the rise is that there are now more Zimbabwean women in the UK are turning to the justice system to settle scores. That means Zimbabwean men are in the British prisons, most of them for something they have not committed.

The media focus on illegal immigrants and deportations might lead some to think that the Zimbabwean prisoner population increase is linked to convictions of immigration-related matters.

The Ministry of Justice data shows that between October 2012 and January 2015, there were 20 Zimbabweans out of 178 foreign prisoners who had been jailed for non-immigration matters.

Between 2017 to 2019 more Zimbabwean men were arrested and jailed on allegations of rape. Almost in all cases, it was revenge crime.

Besides being victims of their angry bitter partners, some have been jailed just for being Zimbabweans. Toga Kawadza, not his real name, was in a shopping mall on a Sunday afternoon.

A young girl of six smiled and waved at him. He smiled back and started playing with the child like every other person would do.

The mother turned and saw this huge black man smiling at her child. She screamed and in no time, Toga was floored by security officers.

The next thing he was in a police station being charged with attempted kidnapping and child abuse. He thought it was a joke, but his world collapsed when he was hauled before the courts and convicted.

He was sentenced to 17 years in prison and placed on the sex offenders register for life. His plea that he was just being friendly and humane fell on deaf ears. His race did not help at all and if ever he comes out alive, he will be deported and will be allowed to carry a “changani” bag back home.

Tonde from Zimbabwe got lost in Luton stopped to ask for directions. Two boys offered to take him where he was going, so they jumped into his car and showed him the place. As a true Zimbabwean, he gave the children £10 as a thank you.

Two days later, he was woken up by dozens of police turning his house upside down.

They arrested him for being a paedophile, and brought the £10 note he gave the two boys as exhibit. In no time, he was facing an all-white jury and was locked up for 15 years.

Negative stereotyping is one of the reasons for the disproportionate representation of Zimbabweans at all stages of the criminal justice system in the UK.

They are more likely to be stopped and searched, more likely to plead not guilty and more likely to be tried and more likely to be given unreasonable jail terms.

These disparities are often part of a complex mix of educational, employment, health and social inequalities that have characterised many of their lives.

It should be noted that policymakers and politicians haven’t ‘fully grasped’ the impact of ‘negative stereotyping’ and ‘cultural difference’.

Most of the Zimbabwean prisoners have said that they are treated differently because of their race, ethnicity or culture.

Blacks are stereotyped as drug dealers, especially those who wear dreadlocks. Could it be that negative stereotypes and institutional discrimination, or sheer innocence as it’s referred to, is fuelling the increase in Zimbabweans being arrested?

Complacency in Zimbabweans abroad has made the British government utterly clueless about the growing Zimbabwean population. It should be noted that some Zimbabweans are in the UK ride on South African, Malawian or Botswana passports.

The Ministry of Justice says the government is committed to ensuring the criminal justice system is “fair, inclusive and impartial, and represents and serves the whole community”.

In a statement, the department said: “Each prison has a multi-faith chaplaincy team to meet the religious and pastoral needs of all faiths, including Muslims, and we expect every prisoner to engage in purposeful work and rehabilitation to give them the opportunity to turn away from crime for good.”

But the issue is Zimbabweans face adaptation challenges and are more often blinded by their culture and are prone to offend.

Few would disagree with that. In fact, the re-offending rates of Zimbabwean prisoners are already substantially lower than others.

But it seems we’ve only just started understanding the reasons so many are locked up in the first place.

Madzibaba Herbert was employed as a bus driver in Croydon. He was told by the ‘spirit’ at masowe that he needs to carry some holy stones and a knife to attack the evil spirits.

During his lunch hour, he sat in his bus and prayed. After his prayers, he put his stones on the dashboard and started waving his knife in the air in a gesture of attacking the evil spirits. A workmate called the police.

Herbert was arrested when he explained that the spirit gave him the holy stones and the holy knife, the police referred him to a mental health institution. The more he tried to explain, the more he was found to be insane.

Some years ago, two Zimbabwean Adventist nurses, a husband and wife, were convicted of child abuse and neglect after they made their child a vegetarian. Following religious lines would not normally be a crime in Zimbabwe, unless there is a harm to the child.

Dozens of men and women are languishing in prisons for disciplining their children. Sheer innocence has led many Zimbabweans to British prisons.

 Many men are paying for being men. The ladies have not stopped plotting against men who threaten to divorce them.  Matrimonial matters have become one way ticket to prison and a chartered flight back home.  Herald vazet2900@yahoo.co.uk

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