Saturday, 5 February 2022

PARDONED MURDERER NOW SUCCESSFUL FARMER


JACOB Harineki was granted a new lease on life, after spending 22 years in prison for committing murder and is debunking long-held misconceptions about ex-prisoners.

Harineki walked out of Harare Remand Prison a free man two years ago after he was granted clemency by President Mnangagwa through the Presidential Clemency Order.

Today, he is proving that ex-convicts can live a crime-free life and coexist in peace with others when given a second chance.

While some convicts, who benefit from the Presidential amnesty immediately go back to a life of crime and are thrown back into prison, Harineki has charted his own route, turning himself into a master farmer in Chegutu.

In 1997, Harineki, then aged 17, was convicted of murdering his employer after the teenage farm labourer, in a fit of rage, torched his boss’ farmhouse in Marondera killing his stricken manager who was inside.

The two were embroiled in a bitter dispute over outstanding wages.

It was not long before the long arm of the law caught up with him.

Standing before a High Court Judge, the teenager was facing the death penalty, which was duly dispensed by the court.

Expectedly, life in prison for a condemned murderer was no stroll in the park.

“I could only see the light of day for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon,” he told The Sunday Mail last week.

“The rest of the day I would be confined to a very small space that cannot accommodate two people. Spending a day in there felt like ages. Now and again I would bid farewell to released inmates, wishing them well and hoping that we would probably meet again in life under different circumstances.”

Through sheer resilience and the abiding hope to rewrite the story of his life, he soldiered on, oblivious of what tomorrow held.

A contrite Harineki insists up to this day that his intention was to burn down the house and never to kill his employer.

In 1998, he wrote to the then President the late Robert Mugabe pleading for clemency.

Three years later, his sentence was commuted to life in prison.

He was then moved to Harare Remand Prison to serve the rest of his sentence.

Life was to take a nasty turn in November 2003 when he suffered the heartbreak of losing his wife and child in a car accident.

The two were on their way from visiting him in prison. When he was finally freed in 2020, Harineki was received at the gate of Harare Remand Prison by his younger brother.

After his story was published widely in local media, Jedidiah Trust, a not-for-profit organisation, reached out to him to lend a helping hand. This encounter signalled the beginning of restoration.

Determined to prove that ex-convicts can make a contribution in their communities if rendered support, Harineki took up farming with the assistance of Jedidiah Trust.

The trust helped him rent a piece of land in Suri Suri, Chegutu.

Jedidiah Trust specialises in facilitating the rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates and their families so that they can cope with challenges during and after incarceration.

Armed with the farming knowledge he acquired during his days in prison, Harineki rented a small plot from where he harvested seven tonnes of maize.

He sold six tonnes to the Grain Marketing Board.

“My appeal to the powers that be is that I be given my own piece of land,” he said.

“I am unable to venture into horticulture, which can earn me more all-year round.

“If I had my own piece of land, I would drill a borehole and do necessary developments. So, I am appealing to the First Lady through her Angel of Hope Foundation to assist me to get land so I can show the nation what I can do with my own hands,” he added.

Harineki, who is now a devout Christian, remarried and now has an 18-month-old child.

“When I got in jail I was young, having matured during that time I began to understand the proper way of living,” he said.

“I am a free and honest individual. So I opened up to my current wife, Choice Mukando about my past and how I am a changed man. She chose to believe and accept me.”

Harineki said he intends to donate some of his harvest from this season’s crop to Harare Central Remand, Khami Maximum Security, Chikurubi Maximum Security and Female Prisons as a way of appreciating Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) for the pivotal role it played in turning his life around.

After being released from prison, Harineki said he made concerted efforts to reach out to his victim’s family to ask for forgiveness, but to no avail. Sunday Mail

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