47 freed under general amnesty

28 Nov, 2022 - 00:11 0 Views

The Herald

The Herald, November 28, 1979  

FORTY-SEVEN men, convicted of crimes of a political nature, were released from the Chikurubi prison complex near Salisbury early yesterday.  

The officer-in-charge at Chikurubi, Chief Superintendent Thomas Kitt, said about 350 such prisoners had been released since Friday in terms of Prime Minister Bishop Muzorewa’s general amnesty.  

The release of the 47 yesterday was unconditional. They were given rail warrants to travel to their homes in various parts of the country.  

Carrying a few personal belongings, the men filed two-by-two in a drizzle of rain through the gate leading from the prison’s medium security section.  

A number were interviewed while they queued for a bus, which would take them to Salisbury railway station.  

All said they were convicted under the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act for trying to cross the border to Zambia to undergo military training.  

There were no relatives to meet them at the gate and none of them appeared to be particularly elated at being released. Some had been serving 10-year sentences.  

Chief Superintendent Kitt said some of the men were guilty of bomb throwing and attempted sabotage of bridges.  

He said the men were employed in normal prison duties, such as working on the prison farm, making sandals and breaking rocks.  

“They have been given basic education too,” he said. “Their education when they got here was practically zero. We have a teacher here who instructed them in the three Rs.”  

LESSONS FOR TODAY 

Amnesty is a pardon extended by the government to a group or class of people, usually for a political offence; the act of a sovereign power officially forgiving certain classes of people who are subject to trial but have not yet been convicted. It also constitutes more than a pardon because it obliterates all legal remembrance of the offence. 

In Zimbabwe amnesty is provided for under Section 112 of the Constitution. Under this section the President after consultation with Cabinet may exercise the power of mercy to grant pardon to any person convicted of an offence against the law. 

The President has announced several amnesties during his tenure with the most recent being General Amnesty 2022 announced in September that was aimed at decongesting the country’s prisons, whose population at August, 29, 2022 stood at 22 114 inmates, against an official holding capacity of 17 000 inmates. 

Some amnesties are critical if you want to get results quickly because there is an inducement for people to comply without fearing reprisals such as arrests.  This was the case with the three-month amnesty for individuals and companies to surrender public funds illegally stashed abroad that was issued by President Mnangagwa in 2018 and another issued in August this year that was extended to people in possession of unregistered firearms and ammunition.

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