President Lazarus Chakwera has pardoned 499 prisoners to decongest prisons amid rising cases of Covid-19 infections in the reformatory institutions.
Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda has confirmed the development.
He said the pardon would reduce the spiking cases of virus infections.
Covid-19 cases are surging in prisons, rising from 134 to 155 within three days, a situation which is greatly worrying prison authorities.
Prison department spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said the cases could even be higher than the current 155.
“The problem is that we are failing to conduct mass testing due to lack of testing kits. We are also not able to disinfect prison rooms because we don’t have the resources,” said Shaba.
Shaba said out of the 155 cases, 21 that tested positive are prison warders.
In Dedza, prison officials say five in-mates have tested positive for covid-19.
District prison spokesperson Holman Mijiga said out of the 50 in-mates that has covid-19 symptoms, only 11 were tested due to inadequate test kits.
Meanwhile, junior prison officers are withdrawing their services today, Friday to force authorities to address issues of risk allowances due to covid-19 threat and personal protective equipment.
The junior officers wrote minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda that they will not attend to suspects as well as convicts who are either on quarantine or have tested positive for coronavirus.
“No new admissions will be allowed into prisons from courts. Entry into prisons by court officials, the police or any civilian personnel shall not be permitted,” says the letter in part.
They say they would return to work only if they get the risk allowances and the PPEs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :