March 6, 2020

Zim police to have eyes on prison amnesty beneficiaries

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Takudzwa Chihambakwe

The Zimbabwe Republic Police says measures are in place to ensure that the over 5000 prisoners who are set to be freed, under a general amnesty, do not engage in criminal acts.

Early this week cabinet approved the amnesty that is meant to decongest the Southern African country’s prisons.

The convicts will be set free once President Emmerson Mnangagwa approves the proposal and exercises his constitutional powers to reduce sentences.

The prisoners will still have criminal records, which will count against them if they repeat the offence, and their convictions stand.

Zimbabwe’s correctional facilities presently hold around 22 000 inmates against a maximum holding capacity of 17 000.

But news of the amnesty triggered mixed reactions with some sections of the Zimbabwean society wary of a spike in criminal incidences.

However, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Paul Nyathi has said there is no need for the public to panic.

“There are mechanisms in place to ensure that people who will benefit from this amnesty don’t indulge in criminal acts,” he said.

“There is close contact between the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services to ensure that we monitor the beneficiaries. The mechanisms we will be employing cannot be revealed to the public for obvious security reasons,” he said.

Nyathi also has some words for those who will be tasting freedom earlier than they had anticipated.

 “We want to urge those who are going to benefit not t abuse the amnesty but to reform and engage in other lawful activities,” he added.

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