President Edgar Lungu has pardoned three high-profile prisoners on the occasion of his 63rd birthday which falls today.
A statement from the presidency confirmed the release of five prisoners from various correctional facilities. Amongst them are a former minister, a journalists and an ex-air force commander.
“The president has pardoned Chief Molungwe, former Minister in the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) Government, Maxwell Mwale, Journalist Derrick Sinjela, Afumba Mombotwa and former Zambian Air Force Commander Christopher Singogo.
Sinjela should be freed? I don’t know. He allegedly insulted the courts? You know, these matters are a bit tricky. I had his name on my list just the other day; I will think about him in future, and I hope he hasn’t substantially served his term.
“The president’s action is in line with article 97 of the Constitution of Zambia Chapter (1) of the Laws of Zambia which provides for presidential pardon and substitution of severe punishments imposed on the convicted,” the statement read in part.
The release of Sinjela, proprietor of Rainbow Newspaper, was expected after the president hinted about it last week.
Speaking to journalists during a media conference at the presidency, President Lungu pledged to review Sinjela’s sentence, the convict was due to be released in December.
“…Sinjela should be freed? I don’t know. He allegedly insulted the courts? You know, these matters are a bit tricky. I had his name on my list just the other day; I will think about him in future, and I hope he hasn’t substantially served his term.
“When is he supposed to come out? December, this year? Ah, ana choka kudala uyu! (He’s already out!)” the president is quoted to have said.
Often, presidents across Africa have offered pardon to certain categories of convicts especially during Independence Day commemorations. Aside, outright releases, some sentences are also reduced, in most cases; death sentences are commuted to life imprisonments.