Sigh of relief for exposed prisoners



President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s amnesty to prisoners last week has rescued jammed prisons that had seen some prisoners suffering from malnutrition and other diseases due to inhumane conditions behind bars, observers said.

Zimbabwe’s prisons, reports say, have been overpopulated leading to diseases and at times deaths of prisoners due to several factors.

Last week, the President used executive clemency to free numerous categories of offenders who had served at least one-third of their prison sentence by Independence Day this year, as well as a much smaller benefit for those serving time for various sorts of violent crime.

All detainees who are terminally sick, inmates with disabilities, and those serving their sentences at Open Prison have had their sentences reduced.

Acting Commissioner General, Deputy Commissioner General, Shepherd Mpofu told Business Times that President Mnangagwa’s generosity would help to decongest the country’s prisons in all ten provinces.

Zimbabwe’s prisons have 17 000 inmates, and Presidential clemency has already been utilised to lower the jail population.

“I would like to begin by thanking His Excellency, Cde Dr. Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, for this noble gesture of granting amnesty,” he said. “This will help significantly reduce the prison population.”

Mpofu said the inmates have been fully rehabilitated to live in harmony with others in society.

“In line with our vision of rehabilitation, I believe we are doing justice by rehabilitating our inmates as ZPCS. We taught them several skills and the majority of the beneficiaries are now practicing the talents that we taught them,” he said.

“Only 3% are returning to prison, demonstrating that our rehabilitation skills are doing wonderfully. I now implore the audience to accept them when they appear and to enable them to perform without interference.”

Several offenders will benefit from the Presidential amnesty except those serving specified offences include those incarcerated for murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, robbery, public violence, human trafficking, unlawful possession of a firearm, contravention of the Electricity Act, contravention of the Postal and Telecommunication Act and any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any of these offences.

Some of these violent criminals, although not all, may have their sentences reduced in some circumstances, but the reductions are far less than for the other non-violent categories.



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