About 3000 prisoners will be freed following a general amnesty granted on them by President Emmerson Mnangagwa under Section 112 (1) (a), (c) and (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
According to the general amnesty gazzetted on March 19, 2018, habitual criminals serving an extended imprisonment are, however, excluded from the amnesty including those previously released on amnesty as well as those serving a sentence imposed by a court martial.
The general amnesty will relieve the pressure on the holding capacity of the country’s prisons which is estimated at 17 000 although the current prison population stands at 20 000 prisoners.
Major beneficiaries will be all female prisoners regardless of the offence committed, save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and/or death, and all juveniles under the age of 18 irrespective of offences committed.
Prisoners sentenced to 36 months and below, who would have served a quarter of their sentence by 19 March 2018, those aged 60 and above, those convicted of stocktheft and disabled persons, among others will also benefit.
Announcing the general amnesty to the media, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Deputy Commissioner General – Administration Alford Dube said prisoners will be given a general amnesty under 12 different categories.
“The exercise has not only gone a long way in decongesting our prisons but has served as a reminder to inmates and society that the purpose of imprisonment is founded on the pretext of reformation than retribution. It has been left to society to ensure that those released are reintegrated safely and well in their respective communities,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Dube urged all stakeholders including families, churches, after care groups, the business community and society at large to facilitate the ex-offenders’ reintegration.
Those excluded from the general amnesty include any person who escaped unlawful custody and is still at large by the date of gazetting this clemency order and those sentenced to life in prison or death.