Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
TRADITIONAL leaders have urged Government to do away with the death penalty. The chiefs said capital punishment was not cultural, but a relic of the colonial era. The traditional leaders made the call at a workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (ZACRO) in Harare yesterday.
They said death penalty was inhumane.
“We as chiefs have concluded that killing is not an acceptable form of punishment. When you kill, you only kill the person leaving the spirit which caused him to kill behind.
“In our tradition we used to order compensation. The murderer was made to pay several cattle,” said president of the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe, Chief Fortune Charumbira.
Chief Bepura said before the white settlers came into the country the chiefs never sentenced anyone to death.
“That is why people compensated the victims’ with cattle and a wife to appease the grieving family. The murderer would not be allowed to go back to his village or to the society but will remain at the chief’s compound where he worked as a slave.
“This was done to deter would-be offenders,” he said.
Chief Nechombo said: “You can kill a murderer but you cannot kill murder.”
Chief Chivese said the reason why Zimbabwe has not hanged anyone for the past 10 years shows that the leaders do not believe in capital punishment.
“We have not hanged anyone and we are even failing to find a hangman because we do not agree with capital punishment,” he said.
Ms Roselina Muzerengi from Amnesty International said their findings concurred with the chief’s sentiments.
“It is not in line with our culture because an eye for an eye makes the world blind. We have discovered that there are some instances where the Judiciary makes wrong decisions and wrongly sentences people to death.
“After these people are hanged evidence may show that they were wrongly accused but it would be too late since death is not reversible,” she said.
She urged Government to repeal the death sentence because Zimbabwe was a Christian community.
Last year Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Government was working towards abolishing the death penalty.
The 1980 Lancaster House Constitution, which has now been repealed, laid the foundation for the death penalty under the Declaration of Rights.