Mbabane: To mark His Majesty King Mswati III’s 53rd birthday this year, the King has pardoned a sizeable number of offenders from His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) facilities.
This announcement was made by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Pholile Shakantu on behalf of the King on Sunday afternoon at the Ministry’s offices.
“It has pleased His Majesty King Mswati III, King and iNgwenyama of the Kingdom of Eswatini, Commissioner in Chief of His Majesty’s Correctional Services that on the occasion of his 53rd birthday celebration, to hereby grant pardon to certain inmates,” said the Minister.
The inmates who got the Royal pardon includes those who, at the time of making this notice, have a remaining sentence of six (6) months or less. The King ordered that inmates with a remaining sentence above six months, such sentence be reduced by six months.
This pardon excludes inmates on capital punishment, inmates whose capital punishment was commuted to a custodial sentence, awaiting trial inmates on the date of this notice, even if their sentence is backdated on conviction.
Shakantu said the King has also ordered that mentally challenged Inmates convicted at the Kings Pleasure who have fully recovered and have been issued with a certificate of fitness by a Medical Practitioner be released from prison as soon as practically possible after making this Notice, save for awaiting trial mentally challenged Inmates.
The King also ordered that inmates suffering from chronic or terminal illness or those above the age of seventy (70) years, save for inmates on capital punishment or inmates whose capital punishment was commuted to a custodial sentence, be released from prison as soon as practicably possible after making this Notice. However this inmates must not be those who are not serving sentences for the following offences – murder or attempted murder; rape, treason, an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 3/2006, and robbery.
Family members and the community at large, are requested to provide transitional assistance to these inmates to ensure a safe re-entry to the community. All inmates who have received Royal Pardon are advised and cautioned to conduct themselves well as they return home.
In as much as this year’s birthday will not be celebrated due to the prevailing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the king granted the royal pardon to the inmates. The last national celebration of the King’s birthday was last held at buhleni Royal Residence in 2019 marking his 51st birthday. The previous year (2018)’s celebration was held at Mavuso Sports Centre and was so significant that His Majesty renamed the country Eswatini as the nation shed the colonial name of Swaziland.
Last year, (2020)’s national celebration to mark the King’s 52nd birthday was also cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, His Majesty further ordered the closure of schools as the country joined the growing number of African countries that took stiff measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The late Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini moved to announce that festivities to celebrate the King’s birthday were cancelled.
“The budget set aside for the King’s birthday celebration will be re-directed to the fight against the coronavirus,” Dlamini said. He further said government had also decided to close schools and tertiary institutions.