Prisons Service says not all prisoners have had their sentences reduced

Man granted bail after close to two years in prison

The Malawi Prisons Service (MPS) has disputed reports that the institution, using a presidential order, has given a General Amnesty to all in-mates by reducing their respective sentences by six months as a measure to decongest the prisons.

Rumour mongers had it that the President granted this Amnesty to everyone, but Chimwemwe Shaba, Prisons Spokesperson says the clemency does not include those jailed for murder, manslaughter, armed robbery with violence, burglary, recidivism, rape, defilement and offences against people with albinism.

Said Shaba: “It is not for everyone. We cannot allow Kabwerebwere (habitual criminals), for example, to be released just like that.”

The Amnesty was part of a presidential pardon during which President Chakwera ordered the release of 48 prisoners as part of the Christmas Holiday Celebrations, in exercise of his powers under Section 89(2) of the Malawi Constitution and Section 111 of the Prisons Act.

“These included convicted prisoners who have served half of their sentences, the elderly and female convicts who were accompanied by their children to prison,” said Shaba.

Of the 48 pardoned prisoners, 37 are those that have served half of their sentences and have displayed reformative conduct during their incarceration, seven are breast feeding female inmates while four are the elderly.

The sum of the pardoned 48 prisoners plus the General Amnesty beneficiaries, is expected to decongest Malawi prisons by 2, 696 in-mates, representing a 15% reduction of the current prison population.