About 5000 prisoners will be released from the country`s prison following a general amnesty by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe`s prisons have a carrying capacity of 17 000 inmates but at the moment they have about 22 000 prisoners.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabhiza told CITE in an interview that although the move is not directly linked to the Coronavirus pandemic, it came at a time when decongesting all social spaces is essential.
“The president made the clemency order in terms of section 112(1)(a) and (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. He has the power to pardon a certain number of incarcerated people at a given time. He can use his discretion when he deems it fit. Although this is not directly linked to COVID19, we can say it came timely as it will allow for the decongestion of social spaces,” said Mabhiza.
Mabhiza noted that inmates who are set to benefit from this amnesty are those who were not convicted of specified offences.
“For the purposes of this amnesty, specified offences include murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, robbery, stock theft, public violence, and any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any of the mentioned offences,” she said.
“Full remission of the remaining period of imprisonment is hereby granted to all female prisoners. The inmate should have served at least half of her sentence. The same goes for juveniles male and female who have served at least one-third of their sentences.”
Inmates who were sentenced to 36 months and below and have served at least 18 months of their sentences will be released too.
Also set to benefit from the amnesty are inmates who have been bed-ridden for a prolonged period without recovery upon certification by a Correctional Medical Officer or a Government Medical Officer.
The amnesty further states that inmates committed in open prisons will be granted full freedom.
Prisoners who have been on the death row for over ten years will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.