CONVICTED modelling guru, Mercy Mushaninga, has soiled her image in pageantry forever.
She used to be a well-respected figure in this game.
Now, she is set to perform 350 hours of unpaid work at Belvedere VID after being convicted of fraud.
On top of that, she is expected to pay restitution of US$10000 to five victims she defrauded on or before December 21.
She has been spared jail as the courts are being urged to be lenient with first female offenders.
However, this doesn’t take away the fact that Mushaninga is a fraudster and it’s a cross she has to carry for the rest of her life.
Of course, she has shown some remorse by apologising to the victims but this, too, doesn’t dilute the gravity of the offence she committed.
By apologising she conceded that what she did was very wrong and she took the first important step in dealing with the demons which persuaded her to commit this crime.
The best thing for her to do now will be to compensate her victims, even though this will not take away the trauma she inflicted on them, and complete the 350 hours of community service.
This is the right time for Mushaninga to do some serious self-introspection and correct her mistakes.
As a celebrity, Mushaninga has always lived under the spotlight, for good or bad reasons.
And, this should have made her know that the same mainstream media, which catapulted her into the spotlight, will haunt her if she made the wrong turn.
It doesn’t matter that she has played a huge role in the local modelling industry.
She must learn from other socialites like Mai TT and veteran broadcaster Oscar Pambuka who have accepted their fate.
By taking a cue from the duo, her rehabilitation process will be easier.
She is likely, or has already lost, some, if not all, of her endorsement deals after her conviction.
These are some of the consequences of failing to live a crime-free life.
However, we also feel that the country should not turn its back on her because she failed a very important test in life — to stick to the values of honesty.
She actually needs moral support so that she can undergo her rehabilitation and return as a better person.
She can actually use her plight to speak out against fraud, which is something that is very common in pageantry.
The local modelling industry should use her in their campaign to denounce ill-practices, which have rocked this industry over the years.
There are many out there who are involved in these dark arts right now and are duping people left, right and centre.
The only difference between them, and Mushaninga, is that they have not been caught.
But, like Mushaninga, the law will eventually catch up with them and they will pay a huge price for that.