Mnangagwa grants amnesty to thousands of Zimbabwe prisoners
Pretoria – Zimbabwe is set to release thousands of inmates serving sentences for a range of non-violent crimes under a general reduction of jail terms granted by President Emerson Mnangagwa, state media reported.
The Herald newspaper quoted information, publicity and broadcasting services minister Monica Mutsvangwa as saying the sentence reduction would apply to defined categories of offences, rather than affecting all prisoners.
“Cabinet noted that the country’s prison population currently stands at 22 000 against an official holding capacity of 17 000. The general amnesty, which will be for certain specified categories of prisoners, will certainly decongest the country’s prisons and alleviate challenges being experienced by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services,” Mutsvangwa said.
“The prisoners still have criminal records, which will count against them if they repeat the offence, and their convictions stand. So they are not pardoned, a process that nullifies the conviction, but are let out of prison early.
In 2018, Mnangagwa granted another amnesty – cutting the sentences of 3 000 prisoners in Zimbabwe in a bid to decongest prisons.
In South Africa last year President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the release of around 14 000 prisoners on pardons or remissions of sentence to mark Reconciliation Day.
Ramaphosa said such remissions were not new as former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki had also granted them.
Sentence remissions differ from presidential pardons, in that in the former, a jailed offender is released to serve the rest of his or her sentence at home and the criminal record remains. A presidential pardon expunges the criminal record of an offender.
African News Agency/ANA