One inmate remained at Connemara Open Prison after failing to locate relatives following the release of 39 others for holidays before Christmas.
The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service accorded 39 inmates a chance to enjoy the holidays for two weeks beginning December 20 last year.
Sadly, one of them failed to locate his family in Bulawayo and returned to find comfort at the place of incarceration.
ZPCS national spokesperson Chief Correctional Officer Meya Khanyezi confirmed the release, saying prison officers at the open prison were herding cattle and goats while the inmates enjoyed a short freedom with their loved ones.
“The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service allowed 39 inmates serving their sentences at Connemara Open Prison to go and spend holiday with their families on the 20th of December 2020,” said Khanyezi.
“It is part of offender rehabilitation and reintegration crime-fighting strategy where we allow inmates to meet the community ahead of their release.
“It is unfortunate that one of the inmates returned after failing to locate his family and is with our officers at Connemara Open Prison.
“The released inmates are expected to report back this Saturday after spending two weeks with their loved ones,” she said.
Among those released is Joseph Chani, 60, who confirmed to H-Metro that he is enjoying the short freedom.
“I am doing well with my family and looking forward to returning to prison and complete my sentence,” said Chani convicted nine years ago of murder.
“As we speak I have keys to my cell room and I would like to thank the government and ZPCS senior officers for this program of allowing us to enjoy this freedom I never thought I would have access to in my lifetime.
“I feel humbled by this short freedom during my incarceration and I am sorry to those I offended and beseech for forgiveness on my behalf and that of my family.
“Ndirikungonamata kuti ndipedzise mutongo wandakapihwa munezvakanaka saka Saturday ndinenge ndodzokera kujeri,” said Chani.
Eight inmates were delayed from leaving the prison over a lack of enough transport money to take them to their destinations.
Among those who got transport assistance from ZPCS two were from Nkayi, another two from Bulawayo while others were from Chinhoyi, Tsholotsho, Beitbridge and Chivhu.
The Connemara Open Prison is for men only and Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa is spearheading the construction of the first Female Open Prison which is now at an advanced stage in Marondera.
PS∗ An open prison (open jail) is any jail in which the prisoners are trusted to complete their sentences with minimal supervision and perimeter security and are often not locked up in their prison cells. In most countries, open prisons are often part of a rehabilitation plan for prisoners moved from closed prisons.