With the exception of a few female convicts serving a life sentence, President Mugabe has pardoned all female prisoners in Zimbabwe.
The pardon was published in an amnesty in Government Gazette No 36, general notice 85/2016. Part of the order read;
“A full remission of remaining imprisonment is, hereby, granted to all female prisoners regardless of offences committed, save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death.”
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) acting public relations officer, Superintendent Priscilla Mthembo said more than 2 000 inmates were likely to benefit from the latest presidential pardon;
“We don’t have the total figure at the moment because the verification process is still going on, but we expect over 2 000 prisoners to be released under the amnesty order issued by the President.”
Male prisoners were not completely left out of the unexpected amnesty as Mugabe pardoned all those under the age of 18, not minding the offences committed.
Those over the age of 60 who had served two thirds of their prison term and all inmates in open prison were likewise granted pardon.
Terminally ill prisoners who would probably not survive their terms, were also fully pardoned regardless of offences.
Male inmates convicted of murder, rape, armed robbery and treason were not part of those pardoned.
Chikurubi female prison which was home to 246 prisoners, in view of the pardon to all female prisoners in Zimbabwe, let go of 139 inmates yesterday.
Some of the released inmates were due to serve lengthy terms for charges ranging from murder, fraud to armed robbery. The inmates who remained behind are those still on remand and few foreigners who are to be released to their respective governments.
For Chikurubi Farm Prison however, there was still some confusion as prison officers rallied to compile names of beneficiaries, particularly those jailed for stocktheft, who have served a third of their sentence. The officer in charge of the male prison, Superintendent Tonderai Magwaza, said he had vetted 190 prisoners who would be released.
Superintendent Priscilla Mthembo said that the amnesty had the effect of freeing up the 46 prisons around the country, which were currently overpopulated by nearly 16%. The correctional facilities have a holding capacity of just 17 000, but had a population of 19 900 inmates.
Prison activists welcomed the amnesty for female prisoners in Zimbabwe and the rest, although they criticized it on the grounds of its abruptness, stating that they had no time to get ready.