Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has granted amnesty to all female prisoners except those on death row or serving life sentences, as prisons struggle to feed inmates due to lack of funding from the government.
Five prisoners died in March 2015 after being shot by police in a protest over food shortages, which turned violent as some of them attempted to break out of jail.
Mugabe announced the pardon through a government notice on Monday, without stating a reason for the move, and the release of prisoners started on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) acting public relations officer, Superintendent Priscilla Mthembo said more than 2 000 inmates were likely to benefit from the latest presidential pardon.
“We don’t have the total figure at the moment because the verification process is still going on, but we expect over 2 000 prisoners to be released under the amnesty order issued by the President,” she said.
For male prisoners, Mugabe pardoned all those who are under the age of 18 regardless of offences committed, and those over the age of 60, who have served two-thirds of their prison terms and all inmates in open prison.
Terminally-ill prisoners, who were unlikely to survive their prison terms, were fully pardoned regardless of offences.