Govt to probe delays in release of pardoned prisoners

Jail Cell prison arrest
Jail Cell prison arrest
THE Ministry of Home Affairs says it will investigate reports that some prisoners pardoned by President Michael Sata since coming into office have not yet been freed due to missing court documentation.

Home Affairs Minister, Ngosa Simbyakula said an investigation would be launched to establish the truth.

“We are going to investigate the matter since I have just come in as the new minister. There is need to find out the truth about this matter,” Dr Simbyakula said.

The planned probe comes in the wake of revelations by Prisons Care and Counselling Association (PRISCCA) executive director Godfrey Malembeka that some pardoned inmates were still stuck in various jails.

Mr Malembeka informed the Times in Lusaka yesterday that missing files at the High Court registry had caused the delay of the release of the pardoned inmates.

“On Friday, one of my friends released on remission was still languishing at Lusaka Central Prison because his file is missing at the High Court. He was begging me to do something about it.

“I hope to go there tomorrow (today) to find out what the situation is,” Mr Malembeka said.

He said it was frustrating for the released prisoners to continue being in prison when they had been pardoned.

Mr Malembeka, who commended President Sata for continuing to release more prisoners around the country since he came into office in 2011, said such efforts by the Head of State would help decongest prisons.

He said PRISCCA and the pardoned inmates were planning to stage a solidarity march to State House to thank the President for his gesture as well as to air their concerns over the delays to release others that had been pardoned.

Mr Malembeka said it was important for those involved in releasing the prisoners to speed up the process.

“The continued detention of those who were released by the President due to paper work is really disheartening to the prisoners.

“Some files have not been traced in the High Court even after their release and most of them are now frustrated. We have evidence to this effect, let anyone challenge us and we will prove our stance,” he said.

Commissioner of Prisons Percy Chato refuted PRISCCA’s claims, insisting that all the prisoners pardoned by President Sata had been released.

Times of Zambia