Mixed emotions over freed prisoners

BULAWAYO - Members of the public have expressed mixed views over the release of 2 000 prisoners from the country’s jails following a presidential pardon.

Most females and men with petty crimes were set free under Clemency Order 1 of 2014.

The pardon was under Section 112 (1) (a) of the Constitution and the amnesty was also extended to male inmates excluding those on death row or serving life sentences.

It has emerged that while prisoners are celebrating their freedom, the public actually feels insecure having ex-convicts back on the streets.

The Daily News took to the streets of Bulawayo and interviewed residents on what they think about the issue of released prisoners.

Princess Ngwenya, 29, said government should have tried other means of solving the lack of food or overpopulation in prisons.

“Government should look into their budget for prisons. If they did they would have been able to feed the mob and take care of their health rather than to give them a free ticket to freedom without serving their terms,” Ngwenya said.

“The president may think releasing those with petty crimes is appropriate but actually it is not because life is difficult out here. There are no jobs available and those prisoners including females were now used to a life of getting food for free so they will resort to crime again to survive,” Ngwenya said.

Costa Masamha, 54, hoped the government screened the prisoners thoroughly because as a taxi driver he feared getting high jacked during the course of his work.

“It is not bad that they freed prisoners because you might discover that some people were locked up for offences they did not commit.

“I am only worried about their screening because how certain is the government that they did not give amnesty to people who have not been rehabilitated,?” Masamha said.

He said it does not help the nation that the government frees prisoners on reasons of hunger and lack of management.

“I really pray that jail time has rehabilitated beneficiaries of the amnesty and that they have learnt a lesson and will not relapse into criminal activities that drove them into prison cells. The fact is their release has brought about this tense atmosphere and at some point some will seek to get revenge on  complainants then skip the country,” Masamha said.

Lister Dube, 27, said pardoned prisoners should behave now that they have been given a second chance in life. “I believe they will not repeat the same mistakes because jail experience can change one’s life.

Some left their children and have been in jail for more than five years and they wouldn’t want to go back there. The public should sympathise with these people and accept them in society because everyone makes mistakes. If it happens that they again break the law then they will find themselves back in jail,” Dube said.

Pride Dube, 41, said she was happy that most women were spared the agony of jail time but men should have remained locked inside as they are likely to repeat the same crimes.

“Men should have never tasted the freedom of the outside world because they are rapists and hard core thieves who never repent. Women do commit crimes too but they easily learn their lessons and jail is just not a safe place for females. I am happy for women not men because in less than a month’s time some of them will be back in jail,” Dube said.

She said the criteria used to free the prisoners reflects weak legislation in the country.

“How can you free a person who once stole or attempted to kill without them finishing their term? I hope the government will not regret this because these people have a great potential of causing chaos. I don’t feel safe,” she said.

Comments (2)

Jere rinorwadza uye rinosunga zvinhu zvese. Hard core criminals will soon be back but those who have learnt their lesson will not repeat the same crimes. We must not forget that we are free not because if our innocence but be cause we are not yet caught. There a lot of free people who have committed serious crimes. What is currently happening is just the tip of the ICEBAG. We will catch up and bring them to the book. We thank His Excellency for allowing those with petty and moderate crimes out. For the returning convicts welcome and behave yourselves. Do not harass the ones that you offended or caused pain but seek harmony with them. Yours loving Judge...

The Judge - 23 February 2014

Hello, this is important news. What's an amazing experience! The Department of media/ news Literacy is developing day by day and it bears the significant of our Technology. Thank you. free daily news

presschoice - 2 March 2014

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