Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
More than 2 000 serving inmates, mostly females and juveniles, are expected to walk out of the country’s prisons free today after benefiting from the Presidential pardon.President Mugabe extended the presidential pardon on February 12 this year in terms of Section 112 (1) (a) and (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The order has since been gazetted. Under the Clemency Order No. 1 of 2014 the President granted a remission of the remainder of the periods of imprisonment to female prisoners regardless of the offence committed save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death.
There were 18 980 prisoners in Zimbabwe’s 42 prisons as at February 14 this year, which is 12 percent above the holding capacity of 17 000.
Addressing a Press conference at Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service headquarters in Harare yesterday Deputy Commissioner (Administration) Agrey Huggins Machingauta said all convicted female inmates at Chikurubi Female Prison would be set free save for two who were sentenced to death and one who was sentenced to life.
“A full remission of the remaining period of imprisonment is hereby granted to all juvenile prisoners under the age of 18 years serving terms of imprisonment, irrespective of the offences they committed.
“Full remission of the remaining period of imprisonment is hereby granted to all those prisoners sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 36 months and below and would have served a quarter of their sentences by the date of gazetting of this Clemency Order, provided they are not excluded from benefiting,” he said.
He said President Mugabe also pardoned all terminally ill prisoners who were unlikely to survive their prison terms irrespective of the offences they committed upon certification by a prison medical officer or a Government medical officer.
Dep Comm Machingauta said those aged 70 years and above as at June 30 last year would be freed regardless of the offence committed save for those sentenced to death.
According to the order all prisoners serving at the open prison will be released. Dep Comm Machingauta urged the nation not to stigmatise the released inmates.
“We urge the nation to accept those released, give them a second chance. We don’t want them to be stigmatised,” he said. Prisoners facing murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking, armed robbery, stocktheft, any conspiracy, incitement or attempt to commit any of the above offences will not benefit.
He said police have been given the names of those released to make sure that they would arrest those with outstanding matters.
Responding to questions from the media, he said it was unfortunate that laws of the world were against ex-convicts but the issue was under discussion at various forums adding that a lobby was going on so that governments cam employ ex-convicts.
He also denied that inmates were dying of hunger in prison saying if there were cases of death they were caused by diseases and not hunger.