THE Constitutional Court (ConCourt) will next week hear the third case of death row inmates fighting to have their sentences commuted. Legal experts, Veritas, who recently also took two other death row cases to the ConCourt, will next Wednesday assist condemned prisoners Farai Lawrence Ndlovu and Wisdom Gochera to fight for the commuting of their death sentences. The pair are represented by Tendai Biti of Biti Law Chambers.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Ndlovu has been at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for the 2012 murder of Michael Sunderland and Geoffrey Andrew Povey, while Gochera was convicted of the murder of a South African in 2002.
According to Veritas, the two were sentenced to death shortly before the new Constitution came into force in 2013.
“The argument, on their behalf, is that the new Constitution effectively abolished the pre-existing law that provided for the carrying-out of the death penalty and the new law providing for the death penalty had not been enacted at the time the court application was filed.
“Hence, the argument is that they cannot now be executed because the law to be applied is the law as it existed at the time of filing the application,” Veritas said in a statement.
Other death row cases that Veritas took to the ConCourt are those of Cuthbert Tapuwanashe Chawira and others versus the Minister of Justice and others, and Emmanuel Dolosi versus the Minister of Justice and another.
Chawira and other death row inmates have been awaiting execution for lengthy periods, with some going up to 18 years living in constant fear that any day they will be called for execution, and living in appalling jail conditions, coupled with other cruel and inhuman treatment.
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Although the ConCourt sat to hear the two cases, it has not yet passed a judgment.
Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured), recently attended the ninth International Meeting of Justice Ministers in Rome, Italy, where he said Zimbabwe was on the path to abolishing the death penalty.
In July this year, Veritas also succeeded in getting the courts to agree that life prisoners will now be eligible for parole like other convicts through a case they helped bring before the courts, Makoni versus Commissioner of Prisons and another.
The ConCourt ruled that life imprisonment without the possibility of release constituted a violation of human dignity and amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment in breach of sections 51 and 53 of the Constitution.