Current track



Zimbabwe grants amnesty to ease prison congestion

Written by on April 22, 2024

Zimbambwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week granted 4 000 prisoners amnesty as part of efforts to decongest the country’s crowded jails.

Pardoned prisoners at Chikurubi Maximum Prison in Harare were freed on Friday after Mnangagwa released women, those with chronic ailments, juveniles and those with life sentences who have served at least 20 years.

There was no reprieve for inmates sentenced for murder, treason, armed robbery, robbery, or those facing death sentences who were imprisoned for life.

Moses Chihobvu, the head of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services agency, told reporters: “We had 24 000 plus prisoners inside. So, the 4 000 going out . . . prisons are still full.”

Chihobvu said the prisons and correctional services would benefit from the release by gaining space needed to accommodate inmates, but also in the savings gained from food and medical care.

The pardoned prisoners refused to be identified, but spoke to reporters as they left the jail.

One departing inmate, with 15 months left on a sentence for unlawful entry, was thrilled and grateful for the news of Mnangagwa’s pardons.

The prisoner talked of looking forward to using skills learned in jail to look after family members.

Another pardoned prisoner, who had served two months after being arrested for stealing from an uncle, said despite being treated well in jail and learning a lot, it was a painful experience the inmate aims to never repeat.

Zimbabwe’s last pardon was in May 2023, but prisons continue filling up.

Obert Muzembe, a criminologist at Muzembe Law Chambers, blames the declining economy.

“You look at the inflation rate in Zimbabwe. That puts pressure on society, and many weak members of society end up [resorting] to unlawful means to survive,” Muzembe says.

“There are [a] number of steps that can be taken to deal with the situation. Number one, of course, we need to educate society, educate the community about crime,” he says.

“Number two, you need the church to come on board. Napoleon Bonaparte once said the church is the moral compass of society. And then, obviously, the economic measures that need to be taken to improve the well-being of the people. But above all, we need society itself to come through in terms of education through the church and various stakeholders.”

Those who were pardoned last year and were arrested again did not qualify for the amnesty Mnangagwa announced. – VOA

The post Zimbabwe grants amnesty to ease prison congestion appeared first on The Namibian.

Current track