Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
President Mnangagwa has approved amnesty on prisoners serving lighter sentences or who have served over one-third of their sentences following a request by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).
ZPCS Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu said in an interview yesterday on the sidelines of his tour of Beitbridge Prison that the move was part of their efforts to decongest the correctional facilities and enhance an optima environment for controlling the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“His Excellency, the President has today signed our request to offer amnesty to some prisoners. What is only left is to gazette the new order so that we may be able to release those who qualify,” said Commissioner-General Chihobvu.
He said as a way of controlling the spread of the pandemic in correctional facilities they had suspended visits by friends and relatives of the inmates.
In addition, no clothes are allowed from outside.
Commissioner General Chihobvu said they had also deployed more face masks, sanitisers, hand washing basins, disinfecting chemicals to prisons.
He said to bolster their capacity they were also implementing other health safety precautions as prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“I don’t have the statistics offhand, but we are hopeful that the amnesty will help a great deal in decongesting crowded correctional facilities.
“At the same time, I want to urge those that will benefit from the clemency to take this as a second chance for them to lead a better life,” he said.
ZPCS, he said, recently introduced a new course on Peace and Education that incorporates the rehabilitation of D class inmates.
Inmates in the country are graded into four classes, A-D and those in Class D are the ones serving long-term sentences ranging from seven years and above, including those who would have committed serious crimes some of which include murder, armed robbery, fraud, or rape, among others.
Commissioner General Chihobvu said these were previously being left idle with nothing to do because of their classification.
“We are now a correctional and rehabilitation service provider and hence we are carrying along everyone as we seek to build a peace-loving community,” he said.
“This Peace and Education course will benefit all the inmates who were previously being overlooked so that they may be able to find their feet and live better lives post-prison life.
“We are also teaching the community and prison officers so that we have a smooth reintegration of inmates in the society”.
Commissioner General Chihobvu said besides the new course, they were also training the inmates on a number of disciplines including horticulture, piggery, poultry, arts, hay bales making, and garment construction, among other disciplines.
The official said their main thrust was to rehabilitate and empower offenders so that they may be able to reflect on their past mistakes live better lives as opposed to hardening them.
He said so far, he had visited nine provinces countrywide to assess the state of affairs and was impressed with the level of commitment by the prison warders.
“I am yet to visit Mashonaland East but what I have seen so far is impressive. To bolster our manpower and address issues of natural attrition we are currently training over 1 000 officers in Ntabazinduna,” said Commissioner-General Chihobvu. — @tupeyo