Death penalty referendum: ATM wants Parliament, Ramaphosa to give SA a say

Opposition parties have turned to speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise and President Cyril Ramaphosa in the face of violence against women and the spate of xenophobic attacks.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) wrote to Modise and to the Presidency to ask for the reintroduction of the death penalty.

ATM president Vuyo Zungula wrote to Ramaphosa, asking him to invoke his powers in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution to introduce a referendum on the death penalty.

In Zungula's letter to Modise, he asked that the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) be asked to hold public hearings on the reintroduction of the death penalty.

"It will not be an exaggeration to say that South Africa is facing a crisis of women abuse and an excessive form of gender-based violence," reads the letter to Ramaphosa.

"The recent killings of young women during the month of August has once again brought this matter to the top of the agenda."

He wrote that it seemed that the laws that were supposed to protect women were failing.

"We are aware of a plethora of literature and statistics that seek to suggest that the death penalty is not a deterrent for crime," he wrote.

"As the African Transformation Movement, we hold a firm view that a very strong message needs to be sent to all the murderers and rapists, that the country will not tolerate this kind of abhorrent behaviour.

READ: Castration for convicted rapists? ANCWL again calls for discussion

"The right to life, enshrined in the Constitution, cannot be the sole preserve of murderers and rapists."

He wrote that the Constitution should be strengthened to protect innocent lives.

"The Constitution cannot be the refuge for murderers and rapists. The Constitution must be the refuge for ALL citizens of this country that are law abiding."

Zungula also referred to instances of vigilante killings and said these could not be encouraged.

"The outcome of the referendum should decide whether or not the Constitution should be amended to allow for the death penalty for heinous crimes such as rape and murder. South Africa must emulate some of its neighbours, like Botswana and Malawi, where there is zero tolerance for murderers."

Abusing rights enshrined in the Constitution

His letter said murderers and rapists were abusing rights enshrined in the Constitution and were "quick to seek refuge in the same Constitution for their own lives to be saved".

"Bereaved families have an untenable duty to prolong their closure by being forced to coexist with the killers of some of their family members."

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa described the past few days as a "dark period for South Africa" after many called on the president to address the issue.

The chairperson of Parliament's multi-party women's caucus, Nkhensani Kate Bilankulu, also said the ANC caucus called for a national state of emergency to be declared on gender-based violence and femicide.

DA, Cope, ACDP join forces

Meanwhile, DA leader Mmusi Miamane wrote on behalf of himself, Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota and ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe to Ramaphosa, requesting an urgent meeting on violence against women and the spate of xenophobic attacks.

He also wrote to speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise, requesting an urgent debate of national importance on the re-establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Probing Violence Against Foreign Nationals noting the recent acts of general lawlessness, destruction of property, looting and violent protests.

The committee must be tasked with finding practical solutions to the underlying causes of such violence, which has no place in South Africa, Maimane said.

"Ultimately, all of us are in unison, that what is taking place in our nation at the moment is abnormal and cannot be allowed," Maimane said on Wednesday at the foot of the steps to the National Assembly's entrance, flanked by Lekota and Meshoe.

"As all parties, we condemn the acts of violence committed against female South Africans, against women in our country, and we condemn outrightly, xenophobic acts that have spread across our country."

On the requested meeting with Ramaphosa, Maimane said: "It is time that with President Ramaphosa, we work out a plan that works for all South Africans, that we are able to appropriately deploy the intelligence and the intelligence report that deals with the sporadic violence that is happening in our communities."

Meshoe said South Africans should know they will not sit back while the country's image is tainted by "people who are harbouring hatred in their hearts".

"All those who are legally in South Africa should know that they are welcomed," Meshoe said, adding, "we also want to say an apology to all the foreign nationals who have been hurt".

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