Prison authorities have said prisoners may be temporarily released to attend funerals, weddings and other important family functions provided they apply and get permission from the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
While responding to an outcry by some people that suspected land baron Felix Munyaradzi had been seen attending a funeral during his incarceration last year, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), reminded that the Prison Act allows inmates to apply for temporary release.
A relative, Mr Collen Mavhundutse had deposed an affidavit insinuating the temporary release of Munyaradzi was a violation of the law. However, ZPCS spokesperson Principal Correctional Officer Peter Chaparanganda said:
The organisation would like to categorically state and advise the public that Felix Munyaradzi, an inmate remanded in custody at Harare Remand Prison, was granted temporary release from prison to go and attend the funeral of his father-in-law by the Minister of Justice, legal and Parliamentary Affairs Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi on 14 August 2020.
The case of Felix Munyaradzi is not the only case where incarcerated inmates have been legally granted temporary release from prison. Several have previously benefitted in line with the provisions of the Prisons Act whenever circumstances warranted the granting of such release.
Previously requests were granted, for prisoners who know the law, to attend weddings and funerals. They can even be released to marry their loved ones, with the minister’s permission.
Section 129 of the Prisons Act (Chapter 7:11) reads:
The Minister may, subject to such conditions as he may specify, grant a prisoner permission in writing to be absent from prison for a specified period for personal, family or other reasons if, in the opinion of the minister, the circumstances of the case warrant the granting of such permission.
PCO Chaparangandaarare’s remarks were supported by lawyer Ms Jacqueline Sande of Sande & Partners who said the “minister is empowered to grant any prisoner, what so ever, the permission to be out of prison if the minister deems there are justifiable reasons, and it is purely at his discretion.”
South Africa-based Zimbabwean lawyer Mrs Tambudzai Gonese-Manjonjo also echoed above sentiments adding that “the permission has to be in writing. It only becomes a problem when permission comes from prison authorities or any other person.”
Chronicle reports that last year, six inmates including Christopher Mhembere, Gugulami Mabandla, Fainos Dick, Victor Moyo, Tawanda Munaiwa Mapinda, were released from prison to attend to personal issues upon being granted permission by the minister.