A large presidential amnesty saw the release of about a fifth of all prisoners in the Zimbabwe Thursday (May 18).
A total of 4270 inmates were let out, according to the country’s correctional service, which described the amnesty as a “noble gesture” by the president.
The move brings down overcrowding in the country which numbers over 50 detention centres, that have capacity for about 17 000 people but held more than 22 000 before the amnesty.
The amnesty was granted to various categories of prisoners including those who are terminally ill, those who have served at least three-quarters of their sentence, or one tenth if over the age of 60.
Violent criminals as well as those serving time for robbery, treason and public order and security offences were excluded.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service appealed the society at large to accept the inmates who’ve been released.
The former prisoners will be able to vote in presidential and legislative elections that are to be held in August, although no date has been announced yet.
The government has struggled to alleviate poverty, end chronic power cuts and rein in inflation.