PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has pardoned 3 000 prisoners in a move that is aimed at decongesting Zimbabwe’s prisons, which are reported to be heavily crowded with some inmates dying in jails due to inhabitable living conditions.
A statement released by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) public relations office this week said those targeted for release were: all female prisoners irrespective of offences committed. However, female prisoners sentenced to death will not be pardoned.
“The following prisoners are excluded from this amnesty; any habitual criminals serving a term of extended imprisonment, any person who was previously released on amnesty, any person who escaped from lawful custody and is still at large by the date of gazetting of this Clemency Order,” the statement read.
Specified offences that were exempted are, murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking and armed robbery, any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any of the offences of those mentioned above and being an accessory after the offence referred above.
“As ZPCS, we applaud the move taken by His Excellency in exercising his prerogative of mercy to some prisoners behind bars. The exercise has not only gone a long way in decongesting our prisons but has served as a reminder to inmates and society that the purpose of imprisonment is founded on the pretext of reformation than retribution. It is now left to society to ensure that those released reintegrate safely and well in their respective communities,” the ZPCS said in its statement.
The correctional services warned the released inmates to respect the amnesty.
“Beneficiaries of this presidential pardon are advised to respect this amnesty by refraining from further committing crimes resulting them in finding their way back to prison. We expect them to live as law-abiding citizens if society is to trust and embrace them.
Call to stakeholders facilitate the ex-offenders’ reintegration into society
“His Excellency’s pardon would be in vain if society fails to assist the returnees. We call upon all stakeholders including families, churches, after care groups, business community and society at large to facilitate the ex-offenders’ reintegration,” the statement read.
“Commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment is, hereby, granted to all prisoners who have been on death row for 10 years and above,” the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) said.
The amnesty was granted to prisoners “in terms of section 112(1)(a), (c) and (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” ZPCS Assistant Commissioner-General Alford Mashango Dube said in Harare.
Full remission was also “granted to all male prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment on or before February 28, 1998 and all female prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment on or before December 31, 2010”.
Excluded from amnesty are prisoners convicted for murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking and armed robbery.
Dube said Mnangagwa used his prerogative of mercy to pardon some prisoners.
The amnesty will help ease congestion in Zimbabwe’s prisons, which currently have more than 20,000 inmates despite a capacity of 17 000.
“The exercise has not only gone a long way in de-congesting our prisons, but has served as a reminder to inmates and society that the purpose of imprisonment is founded on the pretext of reformation than retribution,” Dube said.
He urged society to ensure that those released reintegrated safely and well in their respective communities.
Beneficiaries of the amnesty include all juveniles, prisoners whose health is failing them, all female convicted “regardless of the offence committed, save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death”.
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