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A nation that celebrates rapists

Deben is enjoying a new lease on life
Following the release of two prominent musicians from prison, where they were serving sentences for rape, Staff Writer, THALEFANG CHARLES is appalled that the duo was feted and celebrated on social media

Did you hear the good news? Two famous musicians were released from jail recently before they completed their prison sentence. Many Batswana were ecstatic about the pardoning of these highly brilliant musicians and could not wait to hear their new songs, so they said.

Many people expressed their happiness about the releases and sung praises for these two musicians on local radio shows and on social media. They celebrated and warmly welcomed these musicians saying they “missed them so bad”. 

One comment even likened them to Jesus saying, “All the best man... even Jesus was put in prison”.

Going through the comments, it is without a doubt that many people are really happy about the decision to let these musicians out of jail because they really love their artworks.

In all the celebrations, these happy fans did not even pause to think about the crimes committed by these men, hence this article. I would like us pause our celebrations and indulge in a bit of introspection.

I have written the noun ‘musicians’ five times in the above paragraphs and I would like us to substitute them all with a noun more fitting for this article, ‘rapists’.

Let us take out the noun ‘musicians’ and replace it with ‘rapists’ as the respected Courts of Law concluded of these two men and see whether our celebrations of these rapists’ releases from jail is a dignified and noble thing to do.

The two men I am referring to are, Deben Natale, famous for redoing the legendary folklore singer Speech Madimabe’s Sebodu classic together with Ditiro Leero who shot to fame with his former traditional dance group Matsieng of Tinto fame.

Both men were found guilty for raping 14-year-old girls in separate cases.

Natale got 10-year jail sentence in 2009, while Leero received six years in 2012.

Leero got early release on December 23, 2015, just three years into his six-year sentence.

Natale was also released early this month after having served only six years of his 10-year sentence.

Personally, I am not against the pardoning of rapists, but my bone of contention is the people’s celebration when

rapists are pardoned.

 In these men’s cases, the people were happy about their releases before they could even hear whether the men are really rehabilitated. I found it very disturbing.  Our society chose to forget the evil deeds that these men have done. No one paused and thought about those 14-year-olds, who were scarred for life by these men.

A newspaper article was even shy to mention that Leero was ‘a convicted rapist’ only choosing a rather vague description of him by saying, “was alleged to have raped a 14-year-old”. Natale on the other hand still insists, through a newspaper interview that was done just after his release that he never ‘raped’ the young girl, but only ‘harassed’ her.

Both of these men composed songs about their rapes with lyrics laced with connotations blaming their victims.

Many people happily sang along and no one found it fit to ban these songs.

Should we welcome pardoned rapists in the society?  Of course we should. I believe everyone deserves a second chance.

But I find it very wrong for people to sing praises for pardoned rapists the moment they hear about their releases.

This shows that many people only care about their selfish interests and love for these artists/stars without thinking about their heinous crimes.

My view, with so-called ‘celebrity’ crimes is that only after they demonstrate that they have been rehabilitated and are sorry for their evil deeds should we welcome and support them.

Let us think about their victims.

Those young innocent souls that were violated and scarred for life by these men we call ‘celebrities and stars’.

Have they reconciled with their perpetrators? How do they feel about the releases? Have they been consulted before the releases?

All we can hope for is that these men are rehabilitated and that they will use their prison time as lessons to guide other men away from these senseless and barbaric sexual assaults against women.

Moreover, raping a minor can never be justified.

And one raped young girl is one too many. All musicians must lead the condemnation of rape.  Rapists cannot be role models.

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