Death penalty will not deal with femicide and violence against women and children - Justice Dept

Many anti-femicide protesters have called for the re-instatement of the death penalty and for a state of emergency to be implemented. (Jay Caboz, Business Insider)
Many anti-femicide protesters have called for the re-instatement of the death penalty and for a state of emergency to be implemented. (Jay Caboz, Business Insider)

Reinstating the death penalty in South Africa is flawed in many ways as there is no proof that it acts as a deterrent to violent crime.

This is according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, who issued a statement clarifying remarks made by Minister Ronald Lamola on Tuesday.

At a press briefing, Lamola was asked whether there would be any consideration given to bringing back the death penalty in South Africa.

In response, Lamola said Cabinet would discuss the matter, as they do any other matters which are topical.

Death penalty is no deterrent of crime

The calls come as the fight back against gender-based violence ensues following the murders of women at the hands of men.

Several news publications lead with a headline suggesting that Lamola said Cabinet would entertain such a call - which elicited many response -  whereas he said amendments to existing legislature would be looked at to ensure they are more "responsive".

Having noted that his response may have been received in a different light, spokesperson for Lamola, Chrispin Phiri clarified that "the rejection of the death penalty by the founders of our Constitution is not limited to the fact that it was used in the past to conduct judicial killings against freedom fighters and opponents of the apartheid system.

"It was also based on well-documented research that the death penalty has not served as a deterrent in any society around the world".

'Populist calls'

"The call for the reinstatement of the death penalty is flawed in many ways. First, the idea that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to violent crime is not true," said Phiri.

Phiri further said that the Constitution, read with the Bill of Rights, is such that everyone enjoys the right to life which cannot be opened up to a referendum.

The reinstatement of the death penalty will not deal with femicide and other forms of violence against women and children, Phiri added, cautioning against "populist" calls of bringing the death penalty back.

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