What Zuma said at the Gallows Museum

2011-12-17 18:12

There was no credible evidence that reintroducing the death penalty would result in a decrease in crime, President Jacob Zuma said when he opened the Gallows Museum in Pretoria on Thursday.

A lot of tears were shed when Zuma, family members and dignitaries walked the last 56 steps that 134 political prisoners took on their way to be executed during apartheid.

­This was at the opening ceremony for the restored gallows at Pretoria Central prison.

“There is no justice in killing another human being,” said Zuma.

He extolled the names of some of those who were sent to the gallows, among them MK combatants Vuyisile Mini, Zinakile Mkaba and Wilson Khayingo.

Although the 134 who were executed were regarded as terrorists, “they were freedom fighters who wanted to see a free, democratic and non-sexist South Africa”, said Zuma.

Many who worked at the prison “may have been brainwashed into believing the death row prisoners deserved to die”.

The fact that South Africa had outlawed the death penalty did not mean “we view serious crimes as not warranting serious punishment.

We believe we can be equally tough without giving the State the licence to kill,” he said.

“It has never been proven that the death sentence is more effective than correctional methods in deterring or preventing crime,” said Zuma in front of tens of families, some of whom were not allowed to attend the executions and who were only informed years later where their relatives were buried.

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