DEDANE SIBANDA (34), who is currently serving a 25-year jail term at Khami Maximum Prison on charges of murder, is still failing to come to terms with the fact that his violent actions caused the death of his cousin.
The incident which took place in 2010, is reported to have occurred at St Luke’s business centre, where the two were drinking beer.
In an interview, Sibanda said he regrets the day he went for a drink with his cousin at St Luke’s business centre as that was the day he stabbed him three times after they had a misunderstanding over an unclear issue.
“On the day in question, I remember that I invited my cousin for a beer. This was something we did on the regular and he did accept my invitation. While we were at the bar drinking beer, my cousin started exchanging harsh words with some revellers that were sitting next to us.
“At first, I asked him to stop exchanging harsh words with others as this would create bad blood and I knew there was a possibility that things might not end well between them,” he said.
Sibanda said his cousin did not heed his advice but continued with his cantankerous behaviour and this led the security team to chuck them out of the bar for disturbing the peace.
“I tried my level best to control my cousin but he was a handful. When we got outside he turned on me too and became violent. Instead of cooling down he started throwing stones at me and this left me with no option but to defend myself.”
“It is unfortunate that at that time I was armed with a pocket knife and that is the weapon that I used to stab him as he would have killed me with the stones he was throwing at me,” he said.
Sibanda said in response to his cousin’s attacks, he stabbed him three times in the chest and he died at a nearby bush due to excessive bleeding, leaving Sibanda with no option, but to disappear.
“When we were thrown out of the bar by the security team I thought my cousin was going to calm down but it got even worse as he became even more violent. He started attacking me with stones and in the process I got injured.
“I lost my temper and I took out my pocket knife and stabbed him three times in the chest. When I realised the magnitude of the crime l had committed I decided to disappear. I ran away from the scene and tried to get far away as possible, however I was arrested by the police three days later at Lupane business centre,” he said.
Sibanda said upon arrest his case was heard before Hwange Magistrate Court, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and due to the gravity of his offence he was immediately transferred to Khami Remand Prison.
“With the gravity of the matter I was moved from Hwange Prison to Khami Remand Prison as the nature of my crime and length of sentence had me classified as a D class. It is thereafter that it started to dawn on me that surely my cousin was no longer on this earth and his blood was on my hands.
“It was not easy to accept my situation, but with the help of the Rehabilitation section, I started coping and slowly managed to accept my predicament,” he said.
Sibanda said for the past 10 years he has been working with the Rehabilitation and Chaplains sections on the best ways to control his temper. He has been undergoing counselling and has been learning about anger management.
“I would like to thank Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service for creating a rehabilitation environment that is not biased towards us as inmates. All inmates are given equal opportunities regardless of the crimes that brought us here. The counselling sessions are very helpful to us as inmates and as we speak I am now able to control my temper and l have never had any quarrel with my fellow inmates.
“Since my arrival here I chose to partake in the field of agriculture among all the rehabilitation programmes on offer.
I am hopeful that upon release from prison I would be able to start my own project to take care of myself and my loved ones,” he said
Sibanda challenged the community to accept ex-convicts as most of them are beneficiaries of the rehabilitation programmes that are on offer in different prisons countrywide. The knowledge gained if put to good use can develop the nation in the long run.
“While in prison we are gaining the most important life sustaining skills that can be used in developing this nation, but the challenge that I have noted is that the community is not yet ready to accept us.
“That attitude is very bad because it actually increases the levels of recidivism in our country,” he said.
Sibanda said currently they are running a gardening project that is supplying the local community with vegetables that range from cabbages, tomatoes, onions, just but to mention a few.
“From this garden we are able to supply the local community with vegetables and from that project we are learning a lot in terms of farming. The techniques that we gaining are going to help us, when we complete our sentences,” he said.
The Rehabilitation officer for Khami Maximum Prison, Assistant Principal Officer, Adius Bhasvi said inmates were gaining a lot from the gardening project. The project gives them a hands-on experience and proceeds from the gardening were being used to assist inmates with transport expenses when they are discharged from prison.
“Our aim is to build a crop of farmers that can work towards the development of the nation so that they would be able to contribute towards the growth of the nation. As we speak we are teaching them to grow a number of crops so that they can apply the skills once they go back into society.
“So we are urging the community to accept ex- convicts, most of them are willing to change and to prove to the community that they are new people. Sibanda is one example of an inmate working towards his development even if he committed a crime,” he said.