As worst and as fair as they come, various tabloids went batshit crazy on Friday reporting that Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN) anchor and former deputy editor of the tabloid H-Metro, Robert Mukondiwa, has been apprehended and charged with aggravated indecent assault.
Allegations are that the 40-year-old TV beau raped a 19-year-old Upper Sixth student after plying him with alcohol.
The National Prosecuting Authority alleges that Rob forced himself on the student, an orphan for that matter, who had gone to his house to request money for school fees. A woman in the UK who had seen his Facebook post had directed him to Rob, who would then assess the alleged victim’s needs and advise the donor accordingly.
Rob is said to have forced himself on the victim after a night out drinking at a shebeen. This would have been at Mukondiwa’s home, where the victim was forced to sleep.
“Mukondiwa touched the complainant’s shoulders, asking about his story, but the complainant refused to be touched. Mukondiwa continued to touch the complainant’s chest going downward and lowered his boxers and briefs before laying him on his back. He then lifted the complainant’s legs up, inserted his erect penis into complainant’s anus and did coital movements,” said the prosecutor.
Mapako said the alleged victim screamed, forcing Rob to stop the assault.
The TV star, the court heard, begged his accuser not to tell anyone. He gave the alleged victim US$20 in the morning and he left.
The student, the court heard, told his UK donor about what had happened leading to a police case being filed on March 17.
Magistrate Babra Mateko said the charge was a Third Schedule and thus bail could only be requested in the High Court.
Rob was not asked to plead and is remanded in custody until 12 April 2021.
If found guilty, Rob faces life in jail.
Meanwhile, as many wait for the legal procedure to take its course, there has been chit chats around Rob, with a couple of people even going on and about his queerism (which of course we are so okay with here at #enthuse).
One, Solomon Harudzibwi, write: “What’s sad about Robert Mukondiwa’s issue is how he preyed on a vulnerable young boy who just needed financial assistance. Justice must be served.”
Winners Circle founder Samkeliso Tshuma, even implied that the student might not have been Rob’s only victim.
“Justice must be served. He probably has done it to other boys too. This one can’t be his first victim. It’s really painful,” she said, to which Harudzibwi responded, “Someone said a boy committed suicide after being raped by him sometime ago.”
Another Twitter user by the name @madzibaba_simba said: “Mr Robert Mukondiwa @zimrobbie, being gay is no issue. But that you’d defile a 17yr boy minor, attempt pacify his family & bribe @PoliceZimbabwe details & still show face on @ZTN_News shows is an all-time low. By now, u sir shld be on top of sexual offenders register in Zim.”
These sentiments and others have ultimately led me, for one, to pose the grandstanding question of whether there will come a time or moment where – as a culture – we will dare even talk about cancelling Rob, as uncomfortable as that may seem. Not for being queer. No! For indecently assaulting kids.
By now, if you’re a person who spends any time at all on the internet, you know the routine. A person or brand does something considered offensive or problematic. Social media lights up when posts are written and shared about it. The incident snowballs. The firestorm puts pressure on that person or organization until that entity is effectively “cancelled.”
That’s “cancel culture” in a nutshell. It refers to the boycotting of a public figure once they say or do something that does not align with ideas of political rightness/social justice. It is the social media equivalent of being trapped in a black hole with no way to escape and no sign of redemption on the metaphorical horizon. Through cancel culture, we set up a system advocating that injustices are no longer going unnoticed and we are holding people accountable for their actions.
Cancel culture has progressed from an inside joke starting on Black Twitter to an international movement that aims to hold public figures accountable for their actions. “Clicktivists” advocate for the need of cancel culture in order to hold people accountable for what they say and do in the public eye and on social media. Using social media is effective at calling attention to any offensive, problematic and violent behaviours thus in-turn creating consequences for the actions of those who were previously thought of as ‘untouchable’ slash previously protected by their status of power or privilege. In the past, public figures were sheltered by their privilege, which also figured them as infallible and protected them from the kind of public scrutiny and accountability cancel culture evokes. Therefore, cancel culture has shown us how social media can be turned into a social tool used to change how power can be distributed and a means to call for those individuals with and in power to be held accountable for their actions.
But just like many other movements, cancel culture does not come without debate, with those who are against it sharing their belief that we now live in a culture of snitching, offence-seeking and finger-pointing which is causing intolerance on steroids. The argument is one fuelled by older generations criticising the movement as another example of this generation being “too soft” or “easily offended”, when the reality is that perhaps this generation has a better sense of social awareness and commitment to accountability. In nature, they say, it seems as if the culture lurks and stalks and waits for you to misstep and then pounces to cancel you. Although on a base level it seems to be a way of airing out the dirty laundry of public figures, it does cause us to think about how and why we let certain people carry this dirty laundry around for so long, constantly committing their offences with nobody speaking up against them.
That being the case, when we think of cancel culture purely in terms of accountability — which is what it should bring out of public figures — it is just a way of asking people in the public eye to address their problematic pasts and be held accountable for their actions. It is a means for restorative justice, and I believe if we continue to call out people on their worst, we cement a belief that systemic justice and equality are our non-negotiable.
So I ask again, considering these allegations against the much loved Robert Mukondiwa – an author of The Judas Files, a book that delivers poetic justice to the guilty paedophiles, relationship wreckers, corrupt and the unjust – are we at some point going to talk about cancelling him?