Only two female inmates from Manicaland prisons qualified for release out of 290 prisoners who benefited from the Presidential Prisons’ Amnesty program. This was revealed by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Officer Commanding Manicaland Province Assistant Commissioner Spetosomusa Chinobva at the send-off parade held recently at Mutare Farm Prison. Government released close to 3000 prisoners under the Presidential Amnesty Program in a bid to decongest the prisons amid the Covid-19 pandemic threat. Speaking to journalists at the send-off ceremony held at Mutare Prison, ZPCS Officer Commanding Manicaland Province Assistant Commissioner Spetosomusa Chinobva said Zimbabwean prisons are holding prisoners beyond their capacity and a total of 290 prisoners were released from prisons in Manicaland.
However, only two female prisoners from his province qualified for the release. ZPCS prisons have a holding capacity of 22 000 inmates and have been holding an excess of over 17 000 inmates. Overcrowding in the prisons has been a cause of concern in the midst of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. President Emerson Mnangagwa gave amnesty to prisoners who had served at least three quarters of their custodial sentences and those who were serving for less serious offenses. Assistant Commissioner Chinobva also revealed that crimes that did not qualify in the gazette include robbery, rape, stock theft, carjacking and treason among others. One of the beneficiaries Innocent Simango who was released under the Presidential Amnesty program said he was looking forward to going back to join his family. He had been behind bars for unlawful entry and served about three quarters of his term. He however was not sure if his wife and children would be willing to accept him back since he had not been communicating with them for over a year. The release of the prisoners is expected to go a long way in easing the challenges emanating from Covid-19, inadequate food supplies, clothing, bedding and shelter among other calamities.
Another released prisoner Laurence Maiya who had been in prison for illegal gold panning said he had reformed and was going back home to find other means of earning a living. Maiya revealed that he was excited to have been found among those who were given presidential amnesty.
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