President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe on Thursday pardoned 3,000 prisoners as part of government efforts to decongest prisons and improve living conditions of inmates.
Those who benefited from the amnesty, announced by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) on Wednesday, include all female prisoners except those sentenced to death or facing life sentences, all juveniles and all people jailed for less than 36 months.
Disabled inmates, the terminally ill and those above 60 years who had served one third of their sentences were also pardoned.
The pardon does not apply to habitual criminals previously pardoned but jailed again and those convicted of murder, treason, rape and armed robbery.
Zimbabwe’s prisons are battling overcrowding as they are currently holding 20,000 inmates against a carrying capacity of 17,000.
“As the ZPCS we applaud the move taken by His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) in exercising his prerogative of mercy to some prisoners behind bats,’’ ZPCS deputy commissioner general Alford Mashango Dube said.
This is Mnangagwa’s first amnesty for prisoners since he assumed power last November.
The last pardon that set free thousands of prisoners was done by former president Robert Mugabe in 2016 as prisons were struggling to feed the inmates.