Calls for the reinstatement of the death penalty continue to deepen as Women’s Month fails to decrease the number of gender-based violence and femicide cases.
After more than 20 women died owing to gender-based violence in August, families of the deceased have called on government to bring back the death penalty.
Snikeziwe Dlamini from Durban, who lost her sister, Snenhlanhla, to gender-based violence, told City Press that life imprisonment was not enough because murderers can still have a life in prison.
“It’s been two years since we lost our sister at the hands of her boyfriend. The man lives and breathes in prison, and we are still dealing with the loss of Snenhlanhla, who we will never get to see again. The state found him guilty, therefore he should face death so that his family can feel what we feel,” she said.
Calls for the death penalty gained momentum last year after University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and killed by post office worker Luyanda Botha.
Many associations and political parties have called for the reinstatement of the death penalty, as well as harsher laws and sanctions.
In Secunda, Mpumalanga, the family of Susan Macheke, who was killed and left in a ditch by her partner early last year, have also called for capital punishment.
“We live in a country where anyone can be bought. Our case is that no one knows where Thami is. He killed my daughter, but he managed to run away. We never got justice for Susan. We can’t have a law that is forgiving to murderers because he will kill again. People are dying out here because they go to jail for 15 years and when they return, they reoffend. We cannot live like this,” she said.
More than 52 000 sexual offences and nearly 42 000 rapes were reported to the police last year, according to a nationwide road map to combat gender-based violence released earlier in 2020.
According to Sihle Ngomane, who was a close friend of the late Zama Chiliza, who was killed in the Mthwalume serial killer incident in KwaZulu Natal, “women fight a losing a battle with a government that is not doing enough”.
“For how long should we scream that we are not objects? That we have souls. The government sympathises with us, but does not act. We have been calling for action against men who violate us simply because we are women. Many of these men are not afraid of going to jail, but we are afraid of dying, we are afraid of walking on the streets because we can be grabbed by some sick psycho just for walking. We are tired of sympathies when we have lost a sister, a friend.
“Losing my friend has brought anger more than anything. Such serial killers should feel the same fear we feel when they rape and kill us. They must be put down like the animals they are,” she said.
Olefile Samuel Mngqibisa, a retired soldier, and Elty Mhlekazi, an uMkhonto we Sizwe veteran, wrote a joint letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting that he reinstate the death penalty for men who kill women.
“The killing of five women in Mthwalume in KwaZulu-Natal, whose bodies were all naked or half-naked and dumped in the sugar cane fields prompted me to pen this email to you, with your constitutional powers granted to you by all South Africans, to consider bringing back the death penalty for the criminals – not only men – who daily kill our women.
“The ANC in exile killed people for smoking marijuana and for speaking the truth about wrong practices in the organisation, but now it wants to appear holy at the expense of the victims of these brutal crimes. These are double standards. How do they justify killing people in exile if they are now against the death sentence?” the letter reads.
Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said that reinstating the death penalty would help limit the number of reoffenders.
“I support the death penalty because those who rape and murder would not be able to do it twice. There is a shocking rate of recidivism by rapists and murderers in South Africa. Studies I have read place this rate at 55% on the lower end of calculations for repeat offences,” he said.