Former MDC Activist Freed After Wrongful Conviction: Recounting 10 Years in Prison, Zimbabwe

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Updated: 2:45 PM, Sun November 05, 2023

Former MDC Activist Recounts 10 Years in Prison After Wrongful Conviction

Tungamirai Madzokere, a former MDC activist, has been released after spending 10 long years in prison, two of which were spent in pre-trial detention, and eight years after being wrongfully convicted. Madzokere, along with his fellow activist Last Maengahama, was sentenced to 20 years in jail for allegedly killing a police officer in Harare’s Glen View suburb in 2011. However, they were later acquitted by the Supreme Court, highlighting a grave miscarriage of justice.

Madzokere vividly remembers his time at Chikurubi Maximum prison, where he lived in constant fear and anxiety. The haunting possibility of being executed for a crime he did not commit plagued his every thought. The sound of prison guards walking down the corridors sent shivers down his spine as he believed they had come to take him to the gallows. The specter of the hangman’s noose became a recurring nightmare that haunted him day and night.

During their time in prison, Madzokere and Maengahama shared a cell with other inmates on death row. The fear of receiving a death sentence kept them in perpetual anguish. Their fellow inmates, who had already been sentenced to death, believed that once Madzokere and Maengahama were condemned, the hunt for the hangman would be expedited, bringing their own executions closer. The psychological toll on Madzokere and his colleagues was indescribable.

To make matters worse, Madzokere’s cell was the same one occupied by Edmund Masendeke, one of Zimbabwe’s most notorious murderers who was eventually executed. Walking past the gallows every time he went to see his visitors added to his mental trauma. Despite these harrowing conditions, Madzokere found solace in writing, penning five books during his time in prison in an effort to occupy his mind and cope with the unimaginable.

Zimbabwe is among the 87 countries in the world that have not yet abolished the death penalty. Although the country’s last execution took place in 2005, there are currently 62 inmates on death row. Calls for the abolition of the death penalty have grown louder, with legal thinktank Veritas proposing a re-trial for all inmates sentenced to death. The risk of executing an innocent person is undoubtedly high, making the continued use of the death penalty both unjust and inhumane.

The conditions within Zimbabwe’s prisons have come under scrutiny, with reports indicating severe overcrowding and inadequate care for inmates. The United States’ recent report on Human Rights Practices in Zimbabwe highlighted the appalling conditions prisoners endure, including malnourishment and serious illness. Detainees who are denied bail often spend years in severely overcrowded remand cells awaiting trial. The report also noted that juveniles are particularly vulnerable to abuse by prison officials and other inmates.

As Tungamirai Madzokere begins to rebuild his life after his release, he speaks out against the death penalty, emphasizing its inhumanity. He acknowledges that while he may have escaped this unjust punishment, there are still countless innocent people languishing on death row. The trauma they endure while awaiting the hangman’s noose is unimaginable. Madzokere firmly believes that the death penalty should be abolished and replaced with life imprisonment.

The fight to abolish the death penalty in Zimbabwe continues, with organizations like Veritas petitioning Parliament and advocating for its removal. Amnesty International representatives also emphasize the need to amend the law to eliminate the death penalty entirely. The voices of those against capital punishment are growing louder, highlighting its violation of human rights, lack of deterrence, and the unjust allocation of resources for death penalty trials.

As Zimbabwe grapples with the question of capital punishment, it is crucial to consider the perspectives of all stakeholders. While a public survey reveals that the majority of Zimbabweans still support the death penalty, many are open to its abolition if the government decides on such a move. Balancing the desire for justice with the need to protect human rights is a complex challenge that requires ongoing dialogue and consideration.

Tungamirai Madzokere’s story serves as a reminder of the flaws and injustices within the criminal justice system. As he rebuilds his life post-prison, he remains committed to advocating for the abolition of the death penalty and fighting for justice for those still awaiting the hangman’s noose. The scars of his wrongful conviction and imprisonment may never fully heal, but his resilience and determination to bring about change are unwavering.

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Sophia Anderson
Sophia Anderson
Sophia Anderson is an accomplished crime reporter at The Reportify, specializing in investigative journalism and criminal justice. With an unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth, Sophia fearlessly delves into the depths of criminal cases to shed light on the darkest corners of society. Her keen analytical skills and attention to detail enable her to piece together complex narratives and provide comprehensive coverage of high-profile trials, crime scenes, and law enforcement developments. Sophia's dedication to justice and her ability to present facts with clarity and sensitivity make her articles an essential resource for readers seeking an in-depth understanding of the criminal landscape. She can be reached at sophia@thereportify.com for any inquiries or further information.

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