LEGAL experts Veritas have strongly condemned government failure to align laws with the Constitution and outlaw the death penalty, saying further delays had caused untold emotional anxiety on death row prisoners.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Veritas cited two affidavits prepared by death row prisoners where the latter narrated horrifying experiences in prison and how it felt spending 20 years on death row and in continuous fear of execution.
Currently, over 74 convicts are said to be on the death row awaiting execution.
Veritas, who are strong advocates against the death penalty, said the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act relating to the death penalty, and the Criminal Law Code (section 20) needed to be amended “yesterday” in order for it to be in line with section 48 of the Constitution.
“These provisions are completely at variance with section 48 of the Constitution. In other words the provisions providing for the death penalty were repealed by the Constitution and hence we no longer have the death penalty in Zimbabwe,” they said.
One of the prisoners, Emmanuel Dolosi (46 years) whose prison number is 661/14, said he was arrested in 2010 on charges of murder at Gletwin Farm, Chishawasha, where he and four other accomplices fatally shot Edson Manhembe.
Dolosi is currently at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison awaiting execution, and is praying that the Constitutional Court outlaws the death penalty.
“It is my respectful contention that the law envisaged in section 48 (2), which is the law that may permit the death penalty to be imposed, has not yet been passed by Parliament. It is my respectful contention that at the present moment in Zimbabwe, there is no law that provides for capital punishment and therefore sentencing me to death, as done by High Court Justice Hlekani Mwayera, was wrong,” Dolosi said.
The prisoners said their continued detention had caused them permanent stress, constant fear, psychological and emotional harm.
Another death row prisoner Cuthbert Tapuwanashe Chawira (45) in his affidavit revealed their rights as humans were being seriously infringed as they were kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours.
He said five prisoners shared a 1, 5×3-metre prison cell, used a 20-litre plastic container to relieve themselves and were fed on a poor diet.
According to Chawira, some death row prisoners were now mentally disturbed due to the inhuman conditions in prison.