Mutharika pardons 378 prisoners Part of Malawi 53rd Independence celebrations

Malawi President Peter Mutharika has pardoned 378 prisoners from the country’s overcrowded jails under an amnesty as part of Malawi’s 53rd Independence Celebrations, the home affairs ministry said.

Food distribution in Chichiri Prison. Prisoners are fed just once a day, due to the small budget that Malawian Government allocates to the penal system. The quality of the food is miserable – six days of Nsima (boiled corn flour with no salt or other ingredients) and boiled beans once a week. As a consequence cases of malnutrition are common.Luca Sola/MSF

Flashback: President Mutharika with prison graduates

The pardon of the 378 prisoners “is a symbol of forgiveness” as the country marks its 53rd independence from the British colonial rule, government said in a statement.

The pardoned prisoners had served at least half of their sentences and had behaved well during their incarceration, or had not convicted of serious offences.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday signed by its Principal Secretary Samuel Maduwa and seen by Nyasa Times, Mutharika has granted clemency to some prisoners who are critically ill.

Malawi’s 34 prisons, home to about 12,000 inmates, are battling severe overcrowding, which many blame on courts ordering jail sentences for minor offences.

Malawi commemorates its Independence on 6th July every year and this year’s celebrations will go down in history books as being the worst following a tragedy that happened at the Bingu National Stadium (BNS) where eight lives were lost and left 68 others seriously injured following a stampede as fans battled to find their way into the stadium to watch a football match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver Strikers which was organised as part of the celebrations.

President Mutharika was supposed to watch the game but changed his mind and went on to visit the injured Malawians at Kamuzu Central Hospital.

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