Thousands of prisoners in Zimbabwe have benefitted from president Robert Mugabe’s amnesty announced on Monday, May 23, 2015 without any stated reason.
The pardon covers the over 500 female prisoners in the country’s 46 prisons, except those on death row or serving life sentences, as prisons struggle to feed inmates due to lack of funding from the government, Reuters reports.
Spokeswoman of Zimbabwe’s Prison and Correctional Services, Priscilla Mthembo, told Reuters on Thursday that more than 2,000 prisoners would benefit from the pardon including all juveniles, irrespective of their crimes, as well as some men not serving time for serious crimes like murder, armed robbery, treason, rape or carjacking.
“At the country’s top security jail in Harare, two female prisoners serving life sentences remained after the amnesty, while vetting was ongoing at other prisons,” she said.
At least 139 female inmates were released on Wednesday, first of the releases, from Harare prison and the process will continue throughout the country.
Zimbabwe faces a severe problem of overcrowding in its prisons which hold 20,000 inmates as against the 17,000 capacity.
With the current food crisis caused by drought in the Southern African country, the situation has gotten worse as food shortages have placed a huge toll on its correctional facilities.
Also, Zimbabwe’s struggling economy has made it almost impossible for the government to fund and maintain prison facilities.