2 000 prisoners to be freed today

HARARE - Zimbabwe is set to free over 2 000 inmates beginning today under the presidential amnesty, paving way for the de-congestion of the country’s prisons.

Agrey Huggins Machingauta, a deputy commissioner in charge of administration, told journalists at the Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) headquarters in Harare, that the release will ease congestion in the country’s 42 prisons, where statistics show that there are 18 980 prisoners against a holding capacity of 17 000.

He said the ZPS expected to release an estimated number of 2 000 inmates today, adding that the number will increase as the process progressed throughout the week.

“We expect the nation to accept the releases and give them a second chance in life,” Machingauta, who was with ZPS spokesperson Elizabeth Banda, said.

He said the convicts should not be stigmatised, since they are “our brothers and sisters”.

President Robert Mugabe’s clemency will benefit all convicted female prisoners, juveniles, prisoners above 70 years, but excludes criminals facing serious charges, like rape or any sexual offences, carjacking, conspiracy, armed robbery, murder and stock theft.

Habitual criminals serving a term of extended imprisonment and those serving sentences imposed by a court martial, or any prisoners who escaped jail are also excluded from the amnesty.

The pardon will, however, further benefit terminally ill prisoners, who are unlikely to survive their prison terms, irrespective of the offences, those serving for a period of 36 months and below, but have completed a quarter of their sentences and those that are serving at the open prison.

Machingauta, said inmates that will be released on medical grounds will be properly examined by qualified government medical officers.

The amnesty will lead to the freedom of 118 inmates currently serving their sentences at Connemara Open Prison. The prisoners together with women at Chikurubi Maximum Prison will be released first, since they do not require strict conditions before being set free.

Machingauta said only three women will remain in prison, two of them facing death penalty and another who was sentenced to life in prison. However, the new Constitution outlaws the death penalty for women.

Mugabe pardoned prisoners under Clemency Order Number 1 of 2014 and the amnesty was done under Section 112 (1) (a) of the Constitution.

“A remission of the remainder of the period of imprisonment is hereby granted to those female prisoners, regardless of the offence committed, save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death,” reads part of the Gazette.

“A full remission of the remaining period of imprisonment is hereby granted to all juvenile prisoners under the age of 18 serving terms of imprisonment, irrespective of the offences committed,” the presidential proclamation says.

While issues have been raised concerning the country’s prison conditions, Machingauta dispelled claims that inmates were dying of hunger or diseases due to shortage of medication.

“The death rate in our prisons is nothing to cause alarm,” he said, adding that prisons were a reflection of an ordinary society, where people also get ill and die naturally.

He said prisoners were getting proper meals and medication.

Comments (7)

Zvamurimi mukoromore futi musati madii nekudii.oti vamwe munenge munemashavi ekupara mhosva.rimwe hariiti 24hrs rinenge ratoparamura uye ratosungwa!

gorokoshokosho - 17 February 2014

... those corruption infested maggots should replace these out going inmates ,surely . The broom can start from the parliament itself coming down. IF , and a big IF, that happens then the rule of law will have the light of day since 18 April, 1980.

lorenzo - 17 February 2014

I am very much for everyone getting second chances, but as for the juveniles, what of those who have raped or committed murder? Are they also going to receive this clemency?

Shuwy - 18 February 2014

Ko iniwo amana, don't i qualify pa amnesty apa? Ende hamuite!

gumbura - 18 February 2014

Ko dai mapawo vaGumbura amnesty ndapota

Trevor - 18 February 2014

is this still justice...what about dudu manhenga!!!!!!!!!!!

insanity - 18 February 2014

I think pipo deserve second chances despite what they have done. The bible the Word Of God shows us this through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am who i am today because Christ died for me. My sin not in part but the whole has been nailed to the cross with Jesus. If Jesus can love me despite ALL that i have done, i think they also deserve a second chance. I have been unfaithful, a liar, a cheat, anything you can label me with i have probably done it. But the thing that just changes everything for me is the love that Jesus gave me. Give these prisoners a chance to change not a chance to die in prison. What most of them need is an ear. Someone to listen. Maybe the problem is psychological, hereditary of whatever. Give them a chance to air it out. Prisons are not a place to kill pipo but a correctional facility. one might want to change for the first few years he is in prison but with the lengthy sentence that he has he will thus be hardened and will have time to formulate new ways of doing harm. Zimbabwe think about this. "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone..."

BaShocks - 19 February 2014

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