Citizens applaud Govt for decongesting the prisons

Staff Reporter

Zimbabweans have applauded the Government for continuing to decongest the prison through the general amnesty.

Speaking after the 28th Cabinet meeting yesterday in Harare, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa said the latest Government amnesty sought to decongest the prison institutions whose population currently stood at 20 407 against the  holding capacity of 17 000.

“The rationale behind the proposal is to decongest our prisons, whose population as at 29 August 2022 stood at 22 114, against an official holding capacity of 17 000 inmates. This situation means that 4 798 inmates do not have adequate floor space as required by the Constitution, and this compromises the health of inmates, among other challenges,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Citizens who spoke to this publication commended the Government for decongesting the prisons saying the move will go a long way in combatting the spread of diseases within prisons.

 “We were aware of some of the harsh living conditions our relatives were facing in prisons. The move to pardon some inmates is welcome as it will give a lease of life to those who were incarcerated because of some petty crimes. Again, the amnesty will go a long way to reduce the spread of diseases such as COVID 19. Generally, I am happy that the Government is determined to improve the living conditions of inmates,” said Ellen Sithole of Mabvuku in Harare.

A Harare lawyer who refused to be named said that the decongestion of prisons was in line with the United Nation’s (UN) directive that prison facilities must not be overcrowded as that would pose a health hazard to inmates.

The same lawyer added that the UN noted that congestion of prisons seriously compromised the ability of Government to cater for prisoners’ basic needs in terms of better living conditions and medical care.

According to the lawyer, the UN always pushes for the decongestion of prisons as overpopulation of the facilities mostly leads to difficulties in maintaining good order resulting in potentially severe consequences in terms of supervision and national security.

Meanwhile, the latest Government amnesty excludes those previously pardoned on amnesty, those serving a sentence imposed by court martial, those with a record of escaping from lawful custody and those convicted of committing specified offences.