SA woman’s execution: ‘Nothing SA can do’

2011-12-12 00:00

THE chances of a successful last-minute intervention by President Jacob Zuma to save the life of South African Janice Linden, who has been condemned to death in China for drug smuggling, appeared doomed last night.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told The Witness that the president is in Nigeria and referred all queries to the Justice Department.

Justice spokesperson Tlali Tlali said last night that numerous pleas to China by the South African government have yielded no positive results.

“As the matters stand it seems there is very little, if anything at all, that can be done to salvage the situation,” he said.

The Democratic Alliance yesterday called on Zuma to make a last-ditch effort to have Linden’s sentence commuted on the eve of her pending execution.

Janice Bronwyn Linden (35) reportedly from KwaZulu Natal, is due to be executed by the Chinese government today after she was caught carrying three kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at an airport in that country in November 2008.

She will be executed by lethal injection.

“Our government cannot stand idly by while one of our citizens is executed on foreign shores,” DA MP Stevens Mokgalapa said yesterday.

He said that although South African authorities have tried to intervene previously, it is “clear that whatever our diplomats have done, it has not been enough to save Ms Linden’s life”.

Linden, who has exhausted all possible appeal processes, is not aware of her impending execution.

The Chinese government tells the condemned only on the morning of their execution.

“Drug mules should be punished for what they do,” said Mokgalapa.

“But this is clearly a case of a punishment not fitting the crime.”

He said he will submit parliamentary questions to find out what steps the International Relations and Co-operation Department has taken to have her sentence commuted.

Two of Linden’s sisters are in China and will be allowed an hour with her before she is put to death.

Mokgalapa said a commitment to human rights is a guiding principle of South Africa’s international relations, but there has been little evidence of this in recent dealings with China.

“President Zuma’s fear of upsetting China was the key reason for disallowing the Dalai Lama into our country.

“This time there is more than a visa at stake; it is somebody’s life.”

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