SCORES of prisoners who qualified for release under the Presidential Amnesty on Tuesday were freed from various prisons yesterday afternoon.
Government gazetted the legal instrument that saw scores of prisoners falling under selected categories being released from correctional facilities.
The development follows the approval of a request to President Mnangagwa which was recently made by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS).
According to the order, all female prisoners, juveniles under the age of 18 years, prisoners serving effective sentences of 36 months and below, and all prisoners aged 60 years and above except those convicted of specified offences qualify to benefit from the clemency order.
At Bulawayo Prison 50 inmates were released, while at Khami nearly 100 were freed.
At Khami Prison, inmates from the Khami Maximum, Mlondolozi and the Medium security prisons were released and all were thrilled to be set free, thanking President Mnangagwa for the kind gesture, promising never to return to prison.
Mr Petros Pamhani Ndebele (39) from Plumtree had served three years of a five-year prison sentence for a murder that he committed in 2003.
“What I’m happy about is that my crime has been cleared. I’m grateful that my sentence has been halved and I have been released. I was supposed to be released in September this year. I’d like to thank the President for this amnesty. He showed a lot of mercy and I felt his love for me and my fellow former inmates,” said Mr Ndebele.
Narrating how he got to prison, Mr Ndebele said he stabbed and killed someone in 2003 after a dispute over a dog that had been beaten by the now deceased.
“I stabbed someone in my rural area of Nopemano. We had a dispute after he and a group wanted to beat me up. I drew a knife in trying to defend myself and I stabbed him and he later died in hospital.
“After being arrested I was given bail and was released and stayed there in my rural home for about two years going to court from time to time.
“In 2005, that’s when I took the decision to skip bail and went to South Africa. I would from time to time come back home and my family would tell me that the police were looking for me and I would return to South Africa.
“I was then rearrested in 2017 on December 31 when I returned home and this crime had been troubling me and I wanted to do the time for my offence. I was given seven years, but two years were suspended and then I was left with five years in 2018,” said Mr Ndebele.
However, Mr Ndebele along with many others like him, have a predicament, upon their release they will be taken to the Bulawayo CBD and then they will find their way home, of which for him is Plumtree. Some had not been released by 5PM.
Mr Brendon Nia Hussain (26) from Bulawayo was in prison for unlawful entry and theft.
“I learnt a lot in prison and I want to pursue a career in carpentry. I’m happy that I will be celebrating Independence Day with my family and I’m grateful to the Government and President Mnangagwa for showing us so much love and granting us this amnesty. I’m never returning to prison as I have learnt that crime doesn’t pay,” said Mr Hussain who was supposed to be released in December.
Mr Dominic Nyoni from Nkayi, under Chief Sikhobokhobo said it was a great day for him as he was supposed to have served his sentence by June.
“It’s been long since I’ve been in prison and this is a great day for me. I was convicted for assault. I have learnt a lot in prison, chief among is that when someone provokes you, rather report that person to the police, than taking the law into your own hands.
“I want to go back to my rural home and there are relatives who are taking me there to reunite with my two children and my wife. Then I will sustain myself through small scale mining,” said Mr Nyoni.
At Bulawayo Prison Mrs Ayanda Mlotshwa, who was anxiously waiting for her husband said she was happy that her husband was being released after his arrest over domestic violence last year.
“I reported my husband for domestic violence last year and he was arrested. Life has not been any easier without him and today I’m happy that he is being released. I’m looking forward to a new beginning with him and I am sure he is a changed man,” said Mrs Mlotshwa.
Mr Bongani Moyo said he felt like screaming as a sign of celebrating his release.
‘‘I was convicted of unlawful entry and had served 11 months in prison. I was supposed to be released in November this year. But here I am today, all because President Mnangagwa pardoned me. I feel like jumping and screaming. I am overly excited to see the world again.
‘‘I’m grateful to the President. I’ve learnt a lot in prison and I’m now a transformed man,’’ said Mr Moyo as he joyfully jumped in excitement.
Mr Bernice Sibanda (25), arrested in 2018 for attempted murder said he was happy to finally set foot outside the prison premises after he was released three years down his six-year term.
“I was arrested in 2018 when I was working as a security guard at Club 263. I hit and broke a customer’s hand with a button stick. Although it was self-defence, I was charged six years anyway.
“I’m very happy to finally see the world outside the prison gates. The experience here is not nice; a day feels like a year so I’m very grateful to the President for giving us another chance to freedom, a chance to change our lives for the better,” said Sibanda.
A 53-year-old Mr Joel Ncube said this was a sign that God is indeed alive after he was released four months into his two-year sentence.
“For somebody of my age, a day in prison is like a year. I was arrested on January 6 for unlawfully prospecting for gold. I and six other colleagues were all slapped with two-year sentences. I am humbled by the President’s decision of giving us a new start. Such opportunities do not just come by everyday so I’m grateful to be part of the lucky few. I look forward to seeing my children and grandchildren,” said Mr Ncube.
Mr Donald Mizha said Christmas has come early for him this year.
“I was arrested in June last year for unlawful entry and theft and was sentenced to 12 months, so I was yet to serve four months to complete my sentence. Christmas has come early for me this year. I look forward to a crime-free life after today,” said Mr Mizha. — @Boity104/ @SeehYvonne/@bonganinkunzi