About 2000 prisoners (mostly women and juveniles) have received a second chance at life following their release by President Robert Mugabe.
The prisoners were primarily released from prison in order to make space in its overcrowded jails.
“Our 46 prisons nationwide are overpopulated. This presidential pardon will go a long way in de-congesting our prisons and facilitating good living conditions for those that remain,” said Priscilla Mthembo, an official from Zimbabwe prison and correctional services.
Zimbabwe has only 46 prisons with a population of about 20,000. Also, most prisons in the country are underfunded and greatly depend on donations from charities including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which provides water, food and blankets.
On several occasions, violence and riots have left many prisoners dead and injured in the country. Last year, three prisoners were shot dead during a riot over scarcity of food at the Chikurubi maximum security jail on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.
Also, malnutrition and poor healthcare have been a source of worry in most prisons. Reports showed that in 2013, more than 100 prisoners died of malnutrition and illness.
President Robert Mugabe Extends Presidential Pardon
Throwing more light on the cheery development, local media report says all male prisoners under the age of 18 and all female inmates, except too who are serving life sentences, were released.
Gladly, the pardon was also extended to terminally-ill prisoners and those sentenced to less than three years who had served at least a quarter of their time.
However, the amnesty does not apply to prisoners jailed for murder, treason, rape, armed robbery, car-jacking or sexual offences.
On the other hand, the inmates were told not take the pardon for granted but see it as a second chance at life. They were encouraged to go out there and make positive impacts and respect the law of the country.
Priscilla Mthembo also urged all Zimbabweans to help the inmates “by supporting them in different endeavors to earn a better living”.
President Robert Mugabe is allowed by the constitution to extend amnesty to prisoners whenever he wishes and Mugabe has regularly done this.