Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has pardoned 15 Zimbabwean prisoners amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The released prisoners on Thursday joined 380 fellow countrymen and women who left the Batswana capital Gaborone for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe government spokesperson Nick Mangwana confirmed the release of the prisoners and their imminent return to Zimbabwe on Twitter Thursday afternoon, saying that 395 Zimbabweans left Gaborone today for Plumtree.
Among them, 15 are ex-convicts who were pardoned by President Masisi.
“Some are coming voluntarily and others have visa challenges. Government will use the Criminal Justice System to visit those who are in need of its attention,” he said.
South Africa recently also sent 129 ex-convicts back home to Zimbabwe, together with 398 other fellow deportees.
Many Zimbabweans are scattered throughout the Southern African Development Community region largely in search of employment, but the current #COVID-19 pandemic has left many of them stranded and opting to return home.
Meanwhile, in April, Botswana pardoned and released 149 prisoners to ease congestion in prisons during the pandemic.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi approved the pardons that were announced by the prison service. All pardoned prisoners were subjected to #COVID-19 clearance procedures before their release.
Botswana said 53 of the 149 pardoned prisoners were on extramural labour while 96 were incarcerated.