Government is yet to recruit a hangman, a year after advertising for the job and has “no appetite” to execute inmates on the death row, Justice and Legal Affairs deputy minister, Obert Gutu said yesterday.
Zimbabwe last had executions, eight years ago.
“We have not found a hangman as yet,” Gutu told NewsDay in an interview. “In my investigations, I found out that the vacancy has not yet been filled. However, there is no rush to find one as the Executive has no appetite for executions.
“There is virtually a moratorium on executing inmates on death row.
“You find that after the executions of Chidhumo and Masendeke, the Executive no longer has the appetite to execute inmates.”
Notorious robbers, Edgar Masendeke and Stephen Chidhumo, who committed various crimes including murder and escaping from lawful custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, were the last to be sent to the gallows in 2004.
About 60 inmates are on the death row in Zimbabwe.
“There is a defacto moratorium on executions and I don’t see any being conducted anytime soon, which is good for the country, maybe on exceptional ones such as aggravated murder cases,” Gutu said.
“What will eventually happen to those on death row is that their death sentences will be commuted to life sentences. That is the trend the world over. It’s a general precedental practice. In Zimbabwe we have an inmate who has been on death row for the past 10 years and you can see that the person is already dead considering the torment he has already gone through over the years.”
Government has been advertising the job for a hangman since 2005 when the incumbent retired, but has found no takers.
Some death row inmates were convicted long before then, but are waiting to exhaust the appeals process.
The draft constitution, which was released recently, spares female murderers from the hangman’s noose as the charter states that no woman shall face the death penalty.
It says the death penalty should be considered in “cases of aggravated murder” and does not apply to those below the age of 21 and those above 70.
Human rights activists and organisations, including Amnesty International, have been lobbying government to abolish capital punishment and the exemption of women appears to be a compromise to appease the activists