Prison officer joins fight against death-sentence

Local sculptor Innocent Magwere, who is also a staffer at Hwahwa medium security prison, has produced a wood sculpture protesting against the death sentence. Entitled “No Trinity” the piece depicts a man with a noose around his neck and a sword on his left side, chronicling the way hang-men take the lives of capital convicts.

Magwere shows off his anti death penalty (far left) during an exhibition.
Magwere shows off his anti death penalty (far left) during an exhibition.

Legal experts Veritas last year said the current laws providing for the death penalty were unconstitutional and should be amended as soon as possible.

Section 48 of the constitution stipulates that everyone has a right to life, but adds that “a law may permit the death penalty to be imposed . . .”

Though the section also restricts the circumstances under which the death penalty may be imposed like on men or boys younger than 21, or men older than 70 and women of any age, activists insist that the death penalty should be struck off completely. Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who once faced the death sentence before independence, has concurred that the penalty must be abolished.

Speaking on the sidelines of an exhibition he held at the GweruAmerican Corner, a centre for exchange of ideas and academic studies and research, Magwere said the death penalty had no place in modern Christian societies.

“We as a Christian nation are not supposed to kill a perpetrator of any crime. No matter what offence an individual commits, no one should pass a death sentence on another. Such judgments are only for God,” he said.

The artists reiterated it does not make sense “to fight murder crimes with murder”. “It is better to effect a lengthy prison sentence on a criminal. There are always risks of executing innocent people, arbitrary application of the sentence and as everyone has seen, the death penalty is not deterring crime effectively. So let it go in order to uphold human rights and dignity,” he said.

He added that his experience as a prison official had shown him that if correctional measures are adopted, offenders can reform and become responsible and useful citizens again.

Post published in: Arts
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