I was saddened by the death of Theresa Senzani. I was saddened mainly for four reasons. The first was that I know the Senzani family. They are not my blood relatives, but I have known the family for over a decade. The second reason is that it is not that long that Senzani was released from prison. She had hardly experienced life outside prison when she died. Thirdly, I was saddened that newspaper articles and journalists continued to vilify her even in her death. Fourthly, and perhaps more importantly, I am saddened because I never wrote my mind when Senzani was alive.
Writing about her now may be hypocritical and may not be perceived as genuine. She cannot read what I have written and she went to her grave perhaps believing that all the media was of the same kind –unforgiving and vindictive. There are things about Senzani that are factual. We can and she could not change that. She was a wife. She was at one time principal secretary for Tourism. She had been convicted, on her own plea of participating in Cashgate. She served a prison sentence from which she was released. Although a convicted felon, she had paid her price no matter how much others believed that her sentence was lighter than her admission of wrongs. She didn’t blame someone else, but took full responsibility of her shortcomings. What were the newspaper headings when Senzani died? Cashgater Senzani dies. First Cashgate convict Senzani dies. Cashgater dies. Malawi ‘Cashgater’ Senzani no more. And similarly phrased titles. During her life following her conviction, almost all news items that had to do with Cashgate had the ending:
The first Cashgate convict was Theresa Senzani. Hardly was there any newspaper article that dealt with Cashgate that never mentioned Senzani. Cashgate became synonymous to Senzani. Now, this is where I wrote above that I felt saddened. I should have asked the questions that I am asking now much earlier when Senzani was alive These questions are: Regardless of how much or
how many sins an individual has committed, do we need to continue at every opportunity mentioning their names with respect to their shortcomings? Is it possible to stop at some point and let people return to society without the fear or concern that their names will come up at every opportunity, in this case, that Cashgate was mentioned? Senzani is no longer with us now. She was not the first neither will she be the last to have made a serious mistake. Some, among us now, have confidence enough in ourselves to believe that we will never be in compromising situations as Senzani was. But many of us also will be in similar if not graver mistakes than what Senzani went through. How would we want to be reported in newspapers beyond fair and factual reporting of our mistakes? n