Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Detained Girl Wants to Join Form One

A 15-year-old girl (name withheld), who has been remanded in prison over alleged murder, has appealed that her case be expedited so that she joins Form One next year. She has excelled in the national Standard Seven examinations this year.

The girl presented the touching request to the Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Ms Stella Manyanya, who visited remandees in the female section of the penitentiary in the municipality of Sumbawanga on Monday.

The RC gave the remandees some items of food including a live goat for Christmas and New Year holidays. The RC told the 'Daily News' later that the girl is accused of killing a playmate whom she allegedly hit with a stone on the head.

It is also alleged that the condition of the wounded girl got so critical that she had to be rushed to a medical centre at night but, unfortunately, she died before reaching the centre. The RC told the 'Daily News' that the girl allegedly committed the crime in October, this year.

She had already attempted her Standard Seven final examinations. The results of the exams indicate that she performed brilliantly and has been accorded a secondary school slot. Speaking emotionally, the girl told the visiting RC that she was desperate to join Form One.

She asked the RC to help hasten hearing of the case so she progresses to secondary school if she is found innocent in the murder case. In the same vein, inmates who are serving 30-year jail terms in connection with rape, armed robbery and murder have appealed for presidential amnesty.

Most of the repentant prisoners who appealed for presidential clemency have served half their prison terms. According to Regional Commissioner Stella Manyanya, the prisoners said they are already rehabilitated and are now upright mentally and spiritually.

Unfortunately, the presidential pardon does not cover inmates serving long jail terms, those on death row, those serving life sentences and those convicted of offences related to armed robbery, economic sabotage and drug trafficking.

Also excluded are prisoners convicted of crimes related to corruption, firearms, sexual offences and impregnating school children. Early this month President Jakaya Kikwete pardoned 3,814 prisoners on the occasion of the 51st Independence anniversary of Tanzania Mainland.

Prisoners who benefited from the presidential pardon included those serving imprisonment terms not exceeding five years and had so far served at least a quarter of their sentence. Others were those suffering from life-threatening diseases such as HIV/Aids, TB and cancer and their conditions are at terminal stage.

However, inmates in this category must be approved by a panel of medical experts led by regional or district medical officer. Also pardoned are the elderly above 70 years, but their ages have to be verified by a panel of medical experts led by a regional or district medical officer. The clemency also covers pregnant and lactating women, as well as those with physical and mental disability.

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