AN estimated 6 000 prisoners serving jail terms of non-violent crimes will be released through amnesty in a bid to de-congest prisons and alleviate challenges being faced by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).abinet heard and approved the proposal by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi.
Addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing in the capital Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the sentence reduction will be for defined categories of prisoners. “Cabinet considered and approved the proposal to have a general amnesty, this report was presented by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi,” said Senator Mutsvangwa.
“Cabinet noted that the country’s prison population is currently standing at 22 000 against the 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 Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services.”
Minister Ziyambi said there are nine categories that have been listed for consideration.
“What we did is we listed the categories of prisoners that we are proposing to be given amnesty and we have listed nine categories so going forward now, we will then work on the prisoners who would qualify among the categories but our target is to reduce our prison population so that it is within our prison carrying capacity. We are very hopeful that we will be able to reduce it from 22 000 to about 17 000 or 16 000,” he said.
The President, under the Constitution, has powers to substitute lesser sentences than those imposed by the courts. It is this power that has been used in the past, using a formula to ensure equal treatment. The prisoners still have criminal records, which will count if they repeat the offence as their convictions stand.
In 2018, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pardoned 3 000 prisoners across the country in a bid to de-congest prisons and improve the living conditions of those who remain.