Thursday 18 May 2023


FOR Simbarashe Muneri Chigonamhombe (38), Anju Farm Prison in Nyamandlovu was more of a drug rehabilitation centre as it afforded him an opportunity to break the bond he had with crystal meth that led to his incarceration.

While in prison, he composed 40 rap songs that he now wants to record after tasting freedom.

Muneri is part of the 4 270 inmates who were released by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service following an amnesty granted by President Mnangagwa to decongest the facilities.

At Anju Farm Prison in Umguza, Matabeleland North, 153 inmates were released yesterday.

“I was smoking crystal meth and did not listen to my parents and my family had to get a peace order against me but before long I was in jail.

I have learnt that life is short and spending it on drugs is not worth it. Drugs will either kill you or your family members due to stress or you will go to prison. If you are hooked on drugs get help and go to a rehabilitation centre before it is too late,” he said.

“I really want to thank President Mnangagwa who reduced my sentence by giving me amnesty. I urge youths to change their ways and stay away from drugs as this is good for them, their family, community and the country as a whole.

This is an opportunity I have been given to make my family proud because my life was stained by drugs. Crystal meth, rock and even mbanje are bad for anyone. Stay away from them,” he said.

Muneri said his wish is to live long and one day perform in front of President Mnangagwa to show his gratitude for the gesture.

Former teacher Raymond Chipunza (51), who was serving two years for indecent assault wants to venture into farming to help the country attain food security.

“The President has seen us fit to go back and join the community and this tells us that we are part of Vision 2030 being championed by the Government.

This is a welcome development because we have learnt a lot and we are now an asset to the community. With the programmes we had here, no one is being left behind because we all have gained various skills. Some have learnt building, carpentry, and mechanics and we have certificates for what we did.

“From here I must tell you there is one thing on my mind, farming. I appeal to the Government to avail land to former inmates like me so that we can use the skills we learnt here so that we stay away from crime,” he said.

The former teacher said besides farming, he will always use his knowledge to assist learners in the community.

Denis Sibanda (29) from Magwegwe suburb, jailed for one year for unlawful entry and theft, served only  six months after benefiting from the amnesty.

“I have learnt carpentry skills so from here I want to open my space so that I can work and serve my community. I want to also apologise to the people I wronged and I hope they will be able to forgive me. I also ask for forgiveness from my family as they went through a lot due to my actions, I promise that I am a changed person now,” said the father of two.

The officer in charge of Anju Farm Prison Chief Correctional Officer Casper Nhende said they had become like a family with the prisoners.

“We will miss some of these guys because they have become part of our family. We shared many moments with them and they will remain in our minds.

I know they will also miss those moments we shared here. Our labour force has of course been reduced as a result but we will see how we manage the situation. Most of them have gained various skills and I hope they will be able to use them to start a new life,” he said.

In Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, 26 inmates walked out of Gwanda Prison located in the city centre.

Mr Dickson Mpofu (52) from Silalatshani in Insiza District was pardoned after serving two years of his sentence. “I burnt my aunt’s homestead. I had served two years and I was left with eight months when I was pardoned. I’m grateful for the pardon that President Mnangagwa extended towards me.

“During my stay in prison, I was able to go through a rehabilitation process and I got time to reflect on the offence I committed.

During our stay, we were educated on how we were supposed to live as inmates and also how we should live with other people once we got out of prison. I gained a lot of knowledge on proper social interaction during my stay,” he said.

Mr Mpofu said he has been given a new lease of life and the first thing he will do is mend broken relationships and do right by those he offended.

Mr Lindani Ncube (49) from Mawabeni area in Umzingwane District said he was delighted to be given an opportunity to reunite with his family. Mr Ncube was sentenced to 13 months in prison for assault in June last year and he served nine months.

“I was one of the active inmates at the prison farm and I learnt a lot about growing various kinds of crops. I also learnt a lot about livestock production such as goat rearing, poultry piggery, turkeys, and cattle among other projects. I will utilise the knowledge I have gained to fend for my family.

“The life of crime is now in my past. From here I’m going to reunite with my family,” said Mr Ncube.

Mr Ncube said he was now a “devoted” Christian and was looking forward to leading a life of a Christian.

Mr Rashidi Chando (28) from Phakama Suburb in Gwanda, who was serving seven months for fraud said he learnt that there is a lot one can do to earn a living without committing offences.

Officer in Charge Gwanda Prison, Superintendent Ishmael Madzimbamuto said 53 inmates were yesterday released from Gwanda Prison and its satellites under his area of jurisdiction. The satellites include Filabusi, Esigodini and Kezi. He said he was confident that the prisoners were being released after being empowered.

“We thank President Mnangagwa for granting the amnesty which has seen us releasing 53 inmates from Gwanda Prison and its satellites. This will help to decongest the prisons and ease the accommodation challenges we were facing.

As an organisation, we have equipped the inmates with various skills such as building, painting, motor mechanics, farming and art skills. These skills will help them as they go out into the world. We also empowered them spiritually,” he said  Chronicle


Post a Comment