ECSTASY characterised the usually gloomy Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison and Mukobeko Maximum Female Prison yesterday after President Sata, in a Christmas gesture, released two prisoners and commuted life sentences of 87 other inmates.
That was not all: 10 other prisoners joined the jubilation on learning that President Sata had spared them from the hangman’s noose by commuting their death sentences to life.
Those released were serving 30 years each for murder and the 87 that were jailed for life have had their sentences reduced to 30 years.
Faraha Mwansa, 41, who was jailed for life for murder and has served 10 years of the sentence, celebrated her release with tears of joy and rolled on the ground as she praised President Sata for the unexpected Christmas gesture.
Godfrey Siame, whose life sentence for murder and aggravated robbery was commuted to 30 years by President Levy Mwanawasa, was yesterday gifted with freedom after spending 16 years in prison.
Another inmate, Sharon Muleba, wept uncontrollably when she heard that her life sentence for drug trafficking had been reduced to 30 years.
Kupa Kafunda, whose life sentence was commuted to 30 years, was virtually at a loss of words to describe his joy.
Commissioner of Prisons Percy Chato was the bearer of President Sata’s unprecedented Christmas gift.
Standing before the hordes of prisoners, he read: “I wish to report to you that the President in exercise of Article 59 of the Constitution has duly signed the order to commute 10 death sentences to life, 87 life sentences to 30 years and the release of two long-term prisoners from prisons forthwith.”
The prisoners broke into wild cheers.
“This is the message I have for you and His Excellency [President Sata] has chosen Christmas as a symbol of hope because this is a day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Mr Chato said.
President Sata’s gesture follows petitions by that some prisoners for leniency in accordance with Prisons Rule 140 of Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia regarding their cases.
President Sata’s message to the prisoners was read by Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison officer-in-charge Hastings Chilombe who noted that prisoners whose sentences were commuted were convicted by the High Court of Zambia for various offences and their appeals were dismissed by the Supreme Court.
The President said in the message that through powers vested in him through Article 59 of the republican Constitution, he had substituted the death sentences of 10 prisoners effective the day they were each arrested.
Saved from hanging are Etombi Sitali, Cosmas Phiri, Mulonda Mwendede, Muchiwene Kubola, Charles Phiri, Richard Ngolofawani, Baton Mwaba, Jeffy Mukela, Isaac Zimba and John Phiri.
The cases of the affected prisoners were considered by the prerogative of mercy committee who in turn advised President Sata on what course of action to take.
And the prisoners, through their representatives Lucky Chisuka, Kupe Kafunda and Linda Banda, praised Mr Sata for this gesture.
“We would like to thank the President for what he has done,” Ms Banda said as other inmates applauded.
And Mr Chato encouraged other prisoners who did not benefit from this gesture to continue petitioning the President to be pardoned.
Zambia Daily Mail