After spending 10 years in jail, I was arrested again while preparing to leave prison and got 10 more years

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ALMOST a decade ago, on a sunny Monday afternoon (February 2, 2013), robbery convict, Soul Mukarati (61) was about to be released from prison after spending a good 10 years behind bars.

While sorting out his clearance, he peeped through the window and smiled ear to ear at the glance of a police vehicle that was making its way to the parking lot.

For Mukarati, it meant easy and convenient transport from the outlying Mutare Farm Prison to the central business district where he would connect on his way back to his hometown of Marondera.

As the prison gates were being opened, signalling Mukarati’s return to freedom, the beaming smile on his face suddenly fizzled into wrinkles of melancholy after two officers disembarked from the vehicle and arrested him again!

This time for rape.

Mukarati spent the night in police cells awaiting a court appearance on the rape charges.

Fast forward two weeks later, Mukarati was back in prison to spend the next 18 years in confinement.

This is the story of a Mutare Farm Prison inmate who has literally spent the crucial part of his adulthood, the past 20 years to be precise, in jail.

Mukarati shared his touching experience of returning to jail at a time he thought he had regained his freedom.

“It was like a drama to me. I could hardly believe anything that was going on at that time. Imagine after signing my clearance papers, as I was walking out of prison where I had spent the previous 10 years in confinement, I was arrested again on fresh rape charges.

“I never thought things would go that way, but I accepted it. The rape charges emanated from a relationship I had before I was imprisoned. In fact, they were trumped up charges that were meant to fix me. These were the same people who had initially sold me out in a robbery case,” he said.

Mukarati narrated how he ended up facing the rape charges.

“I fell in love with a lady who was employed as a manager at a Harare-based company. After three years, she fell pregnant.

“I facilitated her transfer from Harare to Marondera where I was based since we had planned to have a future together.

“Our problems begun when I initiated the lobola payment process. Her aunt refused to accept me in the family as I had another wife. Apparently, the aunt was a senior police officer. The two then hatched a plan to fix me by coming up with the rape charges, yet she was my girlfriend, someone I wanted to become my second wife.

“The trial was fast-tracked and I suddenly found myself back in prison,” he said.

For the rape charges, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison, although they were later reviewed to 10 years by the High Court.

Prior to that, Mukarati had been sentenced to 15 years for robbery. He, however, served just above 10 years after some of the years were set aside on condition of good behaviour.

Mukarati will eventually regain his freedom in November next year.

He also narrated how he committed the robbery.

“I committed the crime. I was in good books with a certain domestic worker who worked for a Marondera-based businessman and one day she alerted me that the businessman and his wife were leaving the country as they were embarking on a trip to England.

“She told me that there would be no one at home and at their shop, the place now called N Richards in Marondera. Thanks to her tip, I managed to steal a lot of things from the shop. I took away computers, electric sewing machines, PA systems, chainsaws and many other items.

“I was not caught, but my girlfriend, the one who came up with the fake rape charges, knew about this as I had told her about it. When her aunt refused to accept me in their family, they decided to expose me to the detectives who were investigating the Marondera robbery case. That is how I was arrested and jailed,” said the father of eight.

Mukarati spoke of a gruelling two decades in prison where he has nursed ulcers, high blood pressure, sugar diabetes and cancer.

He received his last visit in prison in 2014.

Owing to ZPCS’s rehabilitation programmes, Mukarati has managed to acquire a Diploma in Theology course.

He also undertook building and electronics courses which he passed with Class Two licences.

Mukarati has also familiarised with agricultural tree production processes of budding and grafting fruit trees.

“I think Government should consider helping inmates when they are released from prison by availing opportunities that will help them integrate in society.

“Some criminals soon find themselves back in prison after failing to fit into the society simply because they do not have any source of livelihood.

“If a person like me gets out of prison and gets 10 or five hectares of land, I can sustain myself and move away from criminality,” said Mukarati.

He is no longer emotionally attached to the women who gave him his eight children and only longs to see his offspring when he eventually regains his freedom.

“I do not want to go back to the same people who have seen the bad side of my character. I will spend the remaining part of my life apologetic.

“I want to start afresh and live a different, but normal life. All I yearn for is to see my children,” said Mukarati.

— Manica Post


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