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The absurdity of a 60-year jail term for rapists

23 Jul 2017 at 11:51hrs | Views
I was shocked to read in the state media that the Zanu PF cabinet had approved a 60 year minimum jail sentence for rapists. Sixty (60) year!? The question which all of us must be asking is if indeed a 60 year jail term is fine and fair for a single count of rape. Quote me right I am not in any way supporting rapists but we must think about this cabinet approval.

While I was digesting this shocking news one of my friends Voltaire Takaindisa Voet reacted to the same shocking news by a facebook post which reads as follows "I don't see the logic for a rapist to be jailed up to 60 years on a single count whereas a murder criminal can be imprisoned for even less than 20 years". Most of his facebook friend agreed with his opinion including myself. We all agreed that a 60 year jail term was excessive, outrageous, barbaric and silly in nature.

However, there were those of different opinion, who thought this lengthy jail term was fair. Mtonzie Mtonzie reacted to the facebook post as follows "A rapist is more than a murderer." My Pastor John Mavesere has the following opinion "If you kill, the person being killed faces pain probably for a few minutes. But if a person is raped they will experience pain for the rest of their life unless grace steps in. Raping a person is like sending a person to prison for 60 years."

Regardless of the above opinions in support of the 60 year jail term the author is hold an opinion that the Zanu PF cabinet made an error in approving a 60 year jail term for single count of rape. According to the news the cabinet approved a 60 year jail term after statistics showed that rape cases were on the rise. It's unfortunate that the public is furnished with only one type statistics, we are not informed if its rapes alone which are on the rise. If there are other criminal cases which are also on the rise the public must be told why rape was only selected for upward review of jail term.

Another reason given for this upward review of minimum sentence on rape was long term jail term were deterrent, would be rapist will be afraid to commit the crime thereby reducing the rape statistics. It is unfortunate that the same news is silent on whether any study was made to prove this fact that long term jail terms were deterrent. An attempt was made in an article published in the Sunday Mail dated 10 July 2017 that studies have shown that lengthy jail terms were deterrent but the author did not cite the researchers and where these researches were done.

According to an artcle "What is the longest possible prison sentence for a single crime? "found on a study done in the USA proved that longer jail sentences were  "Ëxtremely costly, and not necessarily effective at deterring crime" .The study noted that statistics proved that between 1986 and 1992 the was high availability of LSD and heroine to high school students despite the presents of stiffer penalties for drug crimes during the period.

Some people may have the same views as one of my facebook friend who responded to my facebook post as follows; "You don't have to worry about the rape sentence if you are not a rapist…" We must not worry or care about these outrageous jail sentences? I think all of us must worry because there are consequences with these lengthy jail terms, the effects which will affect the whole nation at large. According to Hans-Jorg Albrecht many countries are exposed to economic and financial hardships due to scarce resources and this includes Zimbabwe. Lengthy jail terms will result in overcrowding in jails, a high demand for food, clothing, and more prison personnel and even to a demand to build new prisons and this will be a burden to the tax payer who includes you and me. My question is, did the Zanu PF Cabinet consider the added expense when the approved a 60 year jail term for rapists. We know that some of our jails were condemned not fit for human habitation, did the same cabinet approved an upward review of Prison Ministry budgetary allocation?

According to Edwin Chilimbayi (1986) the only effective attitude in sentencing is a prisoner correctional attitude not a punitive attitude. Prison sentences must be given with a view to correct the behaviour of a convict and to try to make a convict a useful citizen in future. Can you imagine a 20 year old man convicted of rape and sentenced to 60 years, do you think correctional education will assist this young man?

We know that elections are around the corner and it is clear that the cabinet of Zimbabwe, the Zanu PF cabinet is trying to woo the women electorate with the news of this lengthy jail terms for rapists. It is easier to enact barbaric laws but it may be hard to remove them once they are operationalized.

If Zanu PF had women at heart why did they remove Joice Mujuru from the Vice Presidency? If Zanu PF cares for women why is the same cabinet failing to approve a law that guarantees 50/50 gender representation in parliament and cabinet?

I still hold a view that the recently approved 60 year minimum jail sentence is costly to the nation, outrageous, barbaric, inhuman, unconstitutional, and that a sober cabinet could not have approved it in the first place. I argue the cabinet to revisit its decision with immediate effect.

Etiwel Mutero is an archivist and political commentator.You can contact him on or whatsapp 00264817871070

Source - Etiwel Mutero
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