April 16, 2021

Zimbabwe President pardons 2500 prisoners

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Munashe Mukahlera

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has granted amnesty to 2 500 prisoners. The amnesty extends to all female prisoners and juveniles who are not serving specified offences, including those who are terminally ill. Specified offences are serious offences such as murder, treason, public violence, car-jacking, human trafficking, unlawful possession of firearms and rape or any sexual offences.

Also to benefit from the amnesty are inmates serving up to 36 months’ prison terms, who would have served at least one third of their sentence and all inmates in open prison. Those 60 years and above are also set to benefit.

The amnesty comes as Government moves to reduce the prison population to contain the effects of Covid-19.

“The presidential amnesty is a programme that is also helping us to decongest prisons. So we have managed to identify in excess of 2 500 inmates who happen to be prisoners who have committed offences other than specified offences. Our expectation is that through the presidential amnesty, we are also going to fulfill our thrust of rehabilitation and reintegration of the offender,” Permanent Secretary for the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry, Virginia Mabhiza told ZTN news.

According to the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, stations and provinces which are satisfied with their calculations have been given the go ahead to release inmates as soon as possible, and this will see some inmates being released starting tomorrow (Saturday).

A Statutory Instrument of an Extraordinary Government Gazette was published earlier this week by the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in terms of the Constitution. The notice also provides for a full remission of the remaining period of imprisonment with respect to those above 50 years with underlying conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease, provided that they would have served at least one third of their sentence.

Those on life imprisonment are also set to benefit provided that they would have served at least 15 years and this category applies to those who had their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment either on appeal or review. Those sentenced to death and have not been executed, but were on death row for eight years will have their sentence committed to life.

Excluded from the amnesty are prisoners who had previously been released on amnesty, prisoners sentenced by a court martial, those with a record of escaping from lawful custody and those with a pending criminal appeal.

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