Robert Mugabe has called for the return of the death penalty in Zimbabwe. There have been no executions in the country for over a decade, despite a number of inmates still being on death row.

mugabe death penalty
Image Credits: (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali)

 

Capital punishment is on the statute book in Zimbabwe, but no one has been executed there since 2005, when the country’s last hangman retired. There were reports that a new hangman was appointed back in 2012, but the candidate was never officially confirmed.

Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution exempts all women from the death penalty, as well as men under 18 and over 69 years old. The law allows for the death penalty for people convicted of murder “in aggravating circumstances.”

Mugabe issued a call for executions to return in the country this week.

“I think let’s restore the death penalty,” Mugabe said in the capital Harare at the burial of a veteran of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle on Wednesday.

The 93-year old said his cabinet was divided on the issue and while he did not say when the death penalty might return, he issued an ominous warning: “If you hear people are being executed, know Mugabe’s thinking has prevailed.”

The president said that a recent crime report from the police chief, pointing towards a sharp increase in murders, shocked him. He did, however, not give any further details on the report. In 2012, the country’s per capita murder rate was 6.74.

“People are playing with death by killing each other,” he said. “Is this why we liberated this country?

“We want this country to be a peaceful and happy nation, not a country with people who kill each other,” Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe still has more than 90 inmates on death row and recently claimed that it has seen an increase in people wanting to become hangmen with “50 applications received in the past few months”.

Virginia Mabhiza, permanent secretary in the justice ministry, told the NewsDay newspaper, that the response for applications was “overwhelming” from both “men and women”.

Source: The South African

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