HARARE – More than 2 000 offenders from Zimbabwe’s 46 prisons will be released following an amnesty issued by President Robert Mugabe on May 23.
The presidential pardon will see all female and juvenile offenders walking free save for those convicted to life sentences.
Chikurubi female prison yesterday released 139 female offenders, with only two remaining as they have life sentences.
According to the Clemency Order, prisoners sentenced to 36 months and below, prisoners at the open prison and those terminally ill will be released.
Those not legible for amnesty are prisoners with specified offences such as rape, treason, murder, armed robbery and any other sexual offences.
“The following prisoners are excluded from this amnesty: Any habitual criminals serving a term of extended imprisonment, any person under sentence of death, any person serving a sentence imposed by a court marshal and any person who escaped from lawful custody and is still at large,” read part of the order.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services public relations officer Priscilla Mthembo said the amnesty came at a time when the country’s prisons were over populated by 16 percent and needed decongesting.
“For all our 46 prisons, we have a holding capacity of 17 000, however, before the pardon we had more than 19 900 inmates at any given time,” she said.