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Death penalty fails — judge


The judiciary is worried by the increasing number of murder cases brought before the courts, making capital punishment appear to have failed to achieve the desired deterrent effect it was perceived it would, High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha said yesterday.

The judge, who was officially opening the Gweru High Court circuit, said murder cases brought before the High Court increased from 386 in 2010 to 395 last year and this was likely to rise this year. He attributed the development to decay in Zimbabwe’s social and moral fibre.

Justice Kamocha said: “This reveals a most unfortunate trend that respect for human life within our communities is continuing to diminish and the culture is developing where at the slightest provocation man turns against man to seriously injure or kill.”

This year’s first session of the Gweru High Court circuit will deal with 11 murder cases committed last year.

“The total number of people killed in the country in 2010 was 386 and the number rose to 395 last year. These figures are too high for a country like ours. It is scary to think that at least 395 people or even more will die this year not from natural causes or other disasters, but will unlawfully be killed by their fellow men.

“In communal and resettlement areas people hit each other with logs, stools, chop each other with axes and hoes . . . young men drink alcohol and attack defenceless elderly people, smashing their heads to the ground or against walls,” Justice Kamocha said.

The judge said he could not understand why humanity had sunk to such levels when courts were passing deterrent sentences, which included capital punishment.

“Appropriate deterrent sentences are being imposed by the courts, but the trend continues unabated and our prisons are full. At this rate it seems to me that even if we build new courts and prisons they would fill up.

“Even the death sentence does not seem to be achieving the desired deterrent effect it was perceived it would have at its inception.

“What then is the answer?” asked Kamocha.

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