Bulawayo residents have mixed feelings over death penalty execution

Residents in Bulawayo have voiced conflicting feelings about the death penalty, with some advocating for its implementation and others claiming it violates human rights.

These mixed sentiments on the execution of the death penalty came out during public consultations conducted by the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Portfolio Committee at the Small City Hall on Friday.

The primary goal of the consultations is to gather public opinion on the death penalty issue in Zimbabwe, which are meant to provide a platform for increased public awareness and participation in the inquiry.

The death penalty is defined as the execution of a person as a punishment for being convicted of murder in aggravating conditions.

Members of the committee explained that people under the age of 21 at the time of the crime, people over the age of 70, and women are all exempt from the death sentence under Zimbabwe’s Constitution.

Some residents seconded the upholding of the death penalty, noting the fact that some crimes did deserve the death penalty.

“We have people among us who have no remorse. Rapists for example, people who sexually violate young children don’t deserve to live. Already they would have destroyed that child’s life and showing them any leniency is a disservice to the victim,” said a participant during the consultation.

Another participant stated that individuals who commit crimes in aggravated circumstances should be executed so that they do not return to society.

“Imagine what would happen when someone commits a crime against your family. They are sentenced and can return to society after serving their full time. There would never be peace. If people commit crimes that deserve death, let them be executed so that the community can be safe,” said a resident.

Other residents disagreed, claiming that enacting the death sentence would not deter people from committing crimes.

“There is no guarantee that even if we implement the death penalty, people would stop committing crimes. There is no action that can fill a gap when you lose a loved one to death. Although there might be some calmness in knowing that the person who killed your loved one is dead but it would not amount to justice,” another resident pointed out.

Another said: “We have to uphold the right to life as enshrined in the Constitution. Execution of people is a direct violation of human rights, particularly the right to life.”

Participants also stated that lawbreakers who perpetrate crimes that warrant death sentences should not be offered alternative punishment because their continued existence would imply that they would continue to spend state resources.

“If these people are given life imprisonment for example, they would continue feeding off the nation’s fiscus. They may be punished but the punishment would not be as effective,” said another resident.

“Unless, of course, they are condemned to life in prison with hard labour. Zimbabwe is an agricultural country, so these criminals should be sent to work hard in the fields to help the country as a whole.”

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