Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has on Wednesday, granted amnesty to at least 3,000 prisoners, in a move meant to de-congest the country’s prisons.

“Commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment is hereby granted to all prisoners who have been on death row for 10 years and above,” the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) said.

The amnesty is granted to prisoners “in terms of section 112(1)(a), (c) and (d) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” ZPCS Assistant Commissioner-General Alford Mashango Dube said in Harare.

Full remission was also “granted to all male prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment on or before February 28, 1998 and all female prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment on or before December 31, 2010”.

Excluded from amnesty are prisoners convicted for murder, treason, rape or any sexual offence, carjacking and armed robbery.

Dube said Mnangagwa used his prerogative of mercy to pardon some prisoners.

The amnesty will help ease congestion in Zimbabwe’s prisons, which currently have more than 20,000 inmates despite a capacity of 17,000.

“The exercise has not only gone a long way in de-congesting our prisons, but has served as a reminder to inmates and society that the purpose of imprisonment is founded on the pretext of reformation than retribution,” Dube said.

He urged society to ensure that those released reintegrated safely and well in their respective communities.

Beneficiaries of the amnesty include all juveniles, prisoners whose health is failing them, all female convicted “regardless of the offence committed, save for those sentenced to life imprisonment and to death”.