Fifteen condemned inmates were among the 280 prisoners who were baptised at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on Saturday.
BY TINASHE SIBANDA
The death row inmates said after baptism that they had turned a new leaf in their lives.
The born again prisoners had a fun-filled afternoon of dance and celebration after they were baptised at an event hosted by Pastor Tom Deuschle’s Celebration Church together with Faith Ministries, Church of Christ, Avondale Church of Christ and Zaoga Forward In Faith.
Among the condemned inmates who were baptised was 39-year-old George Munyaradzi who was convicted of murder and awaits hanging.
He seemed happy to have been baptised before his death.
“I am at peace and ready for this day because I really thank God for this opportunity to repent and be baptised before my death,” he said.
Munyaradzi said it would not have been the same story if he had not been locked behind bars.
“If I had not repented my life would be a total waste but I guess my incarceration got me closer to God and for that I am grateful,” he said boldly.
Another convict, Daniel Mutema (30) who is currently serving a 12-year jail term for armed robbery, criminal insult and undermining the authority of the President, said he too was happy to have been baptised.
He said before his imprisonment he never had time to listen to the word of God and his incarceration was in a way a blessing in disguise.
“As soon as I complete my time in here I just want to go out there and preach the word of God, as well as lead by example through my actions as a responsible citizen,” said Mutema.
Elias Rombe (39), who has been in prison since 2007 for stock theft and is due for release in 2022, said he was looking forward to leading a better life, knowing that he had been forgiven by Christ.
Rombe said he had become a better person by learning and studying the word of God while in prison and he had definitely become a better person.
“I am very sorry for the bad things that I did and I want to assure everybody out there that I have changed because the word of God made me realise that I had been living wrongly,” he said.
Deputy officer in charge of Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, Chief Superintendent Kemson Nemadziva said he was very grateful to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service for allowing such an event to take place.
Nemadziva said he expected a change of lifestyle from the inmates that had taken such a bold step of repenting and being baptised.
“It’s an honour to have various church leaders who took their time to preach the gospel to these inmates leading them to this day of baptism,” said Nemadziva.
Mashonaland Regional Chaplain, Superintendent Robson Madzivanyika also gave a sermon to the prisoners and said when he had started in 2003, no one was allowed in the prison to preach to the inmates, thus he was very thankful for the transformation.
“When we saw church pastors like Pastor Kanoyangwa and others we were very happy to receive them,” he said.
He said their aim was to baptise at least 1 000 inmates a year and was appealing to stakeholders to ensure that all prisons have baptism pools erected as well.
He said about 6 600 inmates throughout the region and beyond were leaving prisons without being baptised.
“This is the first time we are baptising the condemned ones and it can only happen by the grace of God.”
“When one is put in a maximum security prison it shows that they are highly intelligent that it why it takes the knowledge of the word of God and acceptance of Jesus Christ for them to finally change their ways,” said Madzivanyika.
The pastors brought foodstuffs for the baptised inmates.