Charles Mushinga, Deputy Editor
Most social media users expressed sympathy for Mr Chatikobo, who was allegedly shamed for stealing maize cobs.
The response to help him, led by Mudiwa Hood, was overwhelming and showed just how much love Zimbabweans are made of.
Money was pouring into Mr Chatikobo’s ecocash account and probably still is. Such a loving spirit!
They forgave a thief, forgot his crime and rewarded him for it.
One person was blasted on social media for giving the other side; for fearing Zimbabwe may have been fooled into rewarding a habitual thief and for being too gullible to fall for a trick.
“That man maybe is a good actor. Thieves always pretend. He wants to convince the world to feel pity for him.
“You can help him it is fine but you are sending a wrong signal to the society. One day you are going to be a victim of a thief. A thief can take what you worked for one year within a minute. It may be not his first time. Maybe it is his habit. Only God knows. We are not competent to judge. Only God knows one’s heart,” wrote Chrispin Mubariki under one of Mudiwa Hood’s posts.
He was blasted for his comment by the ever loving Zimbabwean social media users yet his view is pregnant with logic. After all thou shalt not steal is one of the ten divine laws.
“Thieves always pretend,” as Mubariki wrote.
So Mr Chatikobo was caught with eight stolen cobs of maize by a farmer and he lied that he was doing this for his family. Today we actually learn that he stays alone and all the maize was for himself.
But who had he stolen from? It was another man, or woman, who actually decided to work for their family by planting maize in these hard times. They must have woken up in the wee hours for days on end to till the land, plant, weed, apply fertilisers, pray for rain, and guard for thieves.
The hungry teacher had planned to just come and reap where he did not sow like a stray cow and would have gotten away with it had the farmer not been on guard.
Put yourself in the farmer’s shoes.
In an effort to save himself from a beating or worse Mr Chatikobo could have played victim and come up with the story of stealing for his family. Can the good teacher and his family not till their own garden?
“You can help him it is fine but you are sending a wrong signal to the society,” wrote Mubariki. What are we saying to young children through our loving gesture?
Mudiwa Hood had a wise reply.
“We are not saying stealing is good. I helped this man because people were laughing at him as if he is the first to sin. I have been laughed at on social media many times, most recently for saying i look like Kobe Bryant and I know how it feels. People can be driven into suicide from social media ridicule. To me I was saving a life. Everything about him was shouting for help and I did my bit. He accepted that what he did was wrong. The farmers said they want US$10 for the stolen cobs and I paid them. But I plead with us to forgive Mr Chatikobo like our own sins have been forgiven,” he said.
The next person caught stealing, teacher or not, is not going to get the same sympathetic reaction from Zimbabwe. Stealing remains a crime and a sin. Mr Chatikobo has repented, one hopes, and was rewarded for that like the thief that was next to Jesus in his dying hour.
Do not let this act of kindness by Zimbabwe send the wrong signal that thieves shall be caught and rewarded.