The recent release of convicted rapists under the presidential amnesty has caused discontent among some Zimbabweans, with Fadzayi Mahere accusing authorities of being grossly irrational.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered the release of 4,279 prisoners to ease congestion in Zimbabwe‘s prisons, which had a capacity of 17,000 inmates but were holding more than 22,000.
The pardons benefited prisoners who were held for non-violent offences and those aged over 60 who had served at least one-tenth of their sentence by April 18. However, the release included a convicted rapist who had sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl and was released after serving just one year of his sentence.
Fadzayi Mahere, the spokesperson of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) criticised the decision to release the rapists before completing their full prison terms, calling it “irrational.” Mahere, a legal expert posted on Twitter:
While it is globally accepted that amnesties are a useful criminological device to minimise incarceration and encourage rehabilitation, such pardons must be made in a reasonable manner as required by section 68 of the Constitution with due regard to the plight of victims.
With respect, it is grossly irrational to release dangerous, unrehabilitated offenders back into society. In particular, releasing rapists who have barely served their sentence and who’ve not demonstrated that they are rehabilitated poses a huge threat to the survivors of the rape and wider society.
Unleashing unrehabilitated rapists back into the communities that they committed rape is not only ultra vires the amnesty instrument, it’s a grossly irrational, negligent act that must be condemned by all progressive voices who care about the safety of women & girls.
In the video below, some of the convicted rapists speak to reporters after being released.