Tafadzwa Mushunje is still living in isolation, over a month after she was freed by the courts following false allegations that she deliberately infected her boyfriend’s child with HIV.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
The 24 year-old Mushunje, a Harare-based model, says her life has not been the same since her boyfriend’s former wife made the malicious allegations that led to her arrest.
“This experience has made me feel humiliated, depressed, vulnerable, powerless, lonely and hopeless because life seemed meaningless and it pretty much relegated me to staying at home, for that is where I feel safe and not stigmatised,” the model told The Standard Style.
“Right now I do not feel confident to do everyday stuff, like going to the marketplace, shopping, church or simply catching public transport because a lot of people never got to learn about the acquittal.”
The saying “bad news travels fast” rings true for Mushunje as many theories about the story have emerged, with some of her critics refusing to believe that the courts acquitted her on merit.
“It’s really sad when I think about it,” she says.
“A lot of people are still saying there’s no smoke without fire, suggesting that I must have done something of that sort to deserve what I went through.
“But what happened to me could have happened to anyone, any kind of citizen, bad or good citizen for that matter.”
Mushunje says even her identical twin, Takudzwa, has borne the brunt of the negative publicity that followed her arrest.
“This has equally affected my identical twin for she too was forced to abruptly stop living her life because people mistake her for me, so both of us have pretty much stopped living our lives apart from just staying at home,” she lamented.
Before the tragic episode, the Mushunje twins had started to make a huge impact on the local showbiz scene.
From hosting events, becoming faces of corporates to even presenting a show on national television, the twins were making their mark.
But after news broke of Mushunje’s arrest, their world started crumbling around them and some corporates no longer wanted to be associated with their names.
“I will not mention the names but yes, there are certain corporates who dropped me a few days after this ordeal,” said the model.
Echoing the words of dethroned Miss Zimbabwe Emily Kachote, Mushunje said failure by other models to stand up for themselves when they got bad press was due to the fact that they did have strong support systems.
“Models are very few and the society thinks they have no direct benefit from them,” she said.
“So because of their small fraction, it makes it difficult for society to take them seriously, unless someone very powerful stands up for them as their role model.”
While Mushunje is struggling to shift back to her normal schedule as a result of the racket, she said the experience helped her initiate “good soul searching and trying to restructure my life”.
She believes her destiny in the industry remains untainted as she will reemerge with her experiences to become a source of strength for fellow models.