NewsDay Editorial: Stiff sentences for rape welcome

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The landmark sentence imposed on serial rapist and robber Thomas Chirembwe (30) should serve as a reminder to like-minded people that crime does not pay as the courts are now prepared to pass stiff sentences.

NewsDay Editorial

The sentence, though totally ridiculous in terms of the laws of natural attrition, is a statement on how the courts wish to remove undesirable elements completely from society.

Chirembwe was sentenced to a total 290 years for raping 13 women and robbing some of them of their possessions. The court set aside 60 years of the sentence on condition of good behaviour. He will serve an effective 230 years if he survives it!

Regional magistrate Simon Rogers Kachambwa described him as “worse than a wild beast” for committing such callous crimes for nothing but fun.

The incidences of rape across Zimbabwe have shockingly risen as shown by 2013 statistics; between January and December about 1 050 women were raped translating to at least three women raped every day.

This calls for courts to be tough on rapists so as to protect women and girls. The Chirembwe judgment shows that, at last, the courts are serious about passing tough, deterrent sentences.

Chirembwe was initially facing 30 counts of rape and unlawful entry, but was not tried on nine of the counts after witnesses failed to turn up in court to testify during the trial.

It is aggravating that in his criminal acts he used weapons such as knives, iron bars and spanners to threaten his victims. He turned crime into a profession. The responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies totally with its perpetrator.

There is no excuse for sexual violence; it can never be justified, it can never be explained away and there is no context in which it is valid, understandable or acceptable.

What is disturbing is the fact that when judgment was being passed, Chirembwe did not show any remorse or contrition.

The landmark ruling has become a talking point the world over beating the 90 years another Zimbabwean rapist was given only last year.

Kachambwa’s ruling also beat the 252 years imposed by a South African judge on a rapist who had been on a spree to violate defenceless women in that country last year.

It is, therefore, important for Parliament to support Harare West MP Jessie Majome when she introduces her motion during the Eighth Parliament to set a mandatory 30-year sentence for rapists.

The introduction of mandatory sentences for rape and stiff sentences for gender-based violence perpetrators should serve as a deterrent to would-be rapists.

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