Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli has today, December 9, 2019, pardoned 5,533 prisoners as Tanzania marks 58th anniversary of independence of Tanganyika.
The head of state made the announcement at the CCM Kirumba Stadium where the national celebrations took place, saying he was touched with the level of congestion in prisons after visiting the Butimba Prison in Mwanza few months ago.
He said as of Sunday, December 8, 2019, a total of 35,803 people were in various prisons including 17,547 prisoners and 18,256 remandees.
"Most prisoners are serving jail terms over minor offenses such as chicken theft, using abusive language against others, failure to hire good advocates and failure to pay fines," he said.
"Therefore, I pardon a total of 5,533 prisoners which I know could be seen as a large number, but that is how I have been touched," he said.
He added: Beneficiaries include prisoners serving jail terms between one day and one year as well as those sentenced to serve many years but have left with no more than one year in prison.
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He named regions and number of beneficiaries in bracket as Kagera (713), Dodoma (385), Morogoro (365) Dar es Salaam (293), Mara (260) Mbeya (259), Kigoma (252), Tanga (245) and Geita (230).
Others are Rukwa (214), Arusha (208), Manyara (207), Tabora (207), Mwanza (190), Ruvuma (181), Singida (139), Simiyu (136), Lindi (129), Coast (128), Iringa (110), Songwe (96), Katavi (74), Shinyanga (74) and Njombe (70).
He warned beneficiaries to avoid committing offenses that would send them back behind bars.
He handed over the list to the Commissioner General of Prisons DCP Phaustine Kasike directing him to ensure beneficiaries were freed effectively from tomorrow (Tuesday).
In another development, Dr Magufuli commended the ministry of Legal and Constitution Affairs in collaboration with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for nullifying 601 cases including 256 of economic sabotage and setting free the suspects.