Zimbabwe’s main opposition coalition, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), has claimed that some of the more than 4,000 prisoners released on presidential amnesty last week include child rapists.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa pardoned the prisoners drawn from the country’s 47 prisons in an attempt to decongest the overcrowded jails.
Prison authorities had, however, said rape was among offences excluded from the amnesty.
However, viral videos showed what local media said were rapists celebrating their freedom with some who are said to have served less than a year of their term.
The CCC in a statement on Wednesday said it was “grossly irrational to release dangerous, unrehabilitated offenders back into society” before informing or preparing rape victims.
“Unleashing an unrehabilitated rapist who has not served his sentence back into his community unchecked and with no safeguards to protect victims endangers women and girls and can never be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said.
Some Zimbabweans on social media have also demanded that the decision be reversed as it puts women in danger.
Prominent investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono said amnesty “is never granted to rapists or people who have committed violent crimes”.
Mr Chin’ono, a government critic, said Zimbabwean women were not safe following the pardon.
Zimbabwean authorities are yet to comment on the claims.