THE BLOG
09/04/2013 09:55 am ET Updated Nov 04, 2013

Honoring Rebecca Mafikeni

As a human rights defender I was deeply saddened to learn about the unfortunate and painful death of Rebecca Mafikeni.

Rebecca (30) passed away on Monday 12 August 2013 at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare Zimbabwe, where she had been detained since falling ill while incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison (one of the largest prison facilities in Zimbabwe) since her arrest in May 2011 together with 30 others on charges of murdering a police officer in contravention of Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, alternatively or concurrently Public Violence as defined in Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23. Even though Rebecca was not convicted she was incarcerated for more than two years and treated as a serious criminal.

In prison, Rebecca was made to suffer the worst of prison's inhumane conditions and some universally guaranteed human rights were stripped off the political prisoner as she spent close to nine months in solitary confinement. Prison authorities allowed her only 20 minutes a day out of the confined cell wherein, during these 20 minutes, she was expected to complete all chores human beings are expected of in a day -- from laundry and bathing to exercising and just "enjoying" a bit of sunlight out of her dingy prison hole.

At one time, raw sewer would flow inside her prison cell and she would be forced to clean the sewer using her bare hands.

As a result of the malevolent and unjustified actions of the state, Rebecca languished in prison where her condition deteriorated.

Those implicated in, and responsible for her predicament are complicit in, and contributed to, her sad death. These architects of Rebecca's death must be held accountable for the loss of such a precious life. An investigation should be commenced into her death and swift action against the perpetrators by the prosecutorial authorities.

It is cruel, unwarranted and unfair that such a well-lived life has ended in this needless manner. Only bringing the perpetrators to account will assist in ending this unacceptable culture of impunity.

It is my firm belief that bad things that happen to good people serve a greater good, and Rebecca's death should teach us all something about standing up for what is right if we only let ourselves be taught.

There are no words to describe the despondency that many human rights defenders felt at her death as we all know that Rebecca is only but one representative of the many people who have died unjustly under the Mugabe regime.