Tanzanian president John Magufuli over the weekend pardoned a popular singer and his son, both of whom had been given life sentences for raping 10 school children between the ages of 6 and 8. Outrage over the announcement was further stoked on Monday by John Mongella, the regional commissioner of Mwanza, who declared that all pregnant students should be taken into police custody — purportedly to force them to testify against those who had impregnated them. Earlier this year, Magufuli had said that girls who became pregnant should be banned from ever attending school again.
“As long as I am president … no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school,” said Magufuli in June. “After getting pregnant, you are done.”
The rapists, whom the president pardoned alongside thousands of other prisoners during an independence day speech, are singer Nguzu Viking and his son Johnson Ngazu — also known as Babu Seya and Papii Kocha, respectively. The father and son had been sentenced to life in prison in 2003.
“While President Magufuli is pardoning convicted child rapists, regional commissioner John Mongella is calling on pregnant school girls to be arrested and taken to court. Tanzania’s leaders are promoting a culture of human rights violations in which young victims of sexual violence are being punished while perpetrators are going free,” said Fazia Mohamed, director of Equality Now’s Africa office. “It is unacceptable that convicted child molesters walk free by order of a president who simultaneously denies victims of assault access to education if they become pregnant. After seeing their attackers sentenced to life for rape, now these survivors and their families are dealing with the pain of witnessing the president freeing the men who violated them. Where is the justice in that?”
Magufuli, a populist leader known as “the bulldozer,” has banned two Tanzanian newspapers in the past year — one for publishing articles critical of the president, and another for alleging corruption by two of the country’s retired presidents.
Read the full story at The Guardian.