DEATH SENTENCE DEBATED
Last month Botswana rejected pleas from other countries to abolish the death penalty during the country’s appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The British High Commissioner Nick Tyle added his voice to the abolition of the death penalty campaign during the recent Ditshwanelo Film Festival when he stated that there was nothing compassionate about Botswana as a nation when the country still practised capital punishment.
As if to stick the middle finger in the faces of all those who condemned the country for upholding the death penalty, on Sunday, death row inmate Modise Thokamolelo was executed by hanging by the Botswana Prison services.
Tlhokamolelo was a six times murder convict. He had pleaded guilty to the murder of his brother and the brother’s entire family of five members, including a four- month-old baby.
The murdered family members who were killed following a fight over food at a cattle post near Letlhakane village in 2008 were Tiragalo Thaga, Garemoitatole Garebone, London Thokamolelo, China London, Oreemetse Lepadile and Kemodiretse Lepadile.
He was sentenced to death by the Francistown High Court on all six counts in 2010 and appealed the convictions and sentences at the Court of Appeal last month and lost.
His execution reduces the number of death inmates currently on death row to five.
Voice Reporters hit the streets of Francistown to have the ordinary citizen express their views on this topical subject.
Neonyane Madeswi said: she has no problem with the death penalty and would not want to see it abolished.
“It should be applied to murderers and rapists but not robbers.
It is a way of getting rid of evil and notorious people in our society,” said the 26- year- old.
“Even though death by hanging has not reduced crime, we should uphold it.
Practising the death penalty shouldn’t make other countries think we are an uncaring nation.”
Bashi Lesego, 33, said: “It’s fair to hang those who kill other human beings but the courts should carefully establish if the perpetrator would have committed the offence on purpose or not.
“ If one was provoked, or by mistake hits the other and the blow becomes fatal it wouldn’t be right to hang people for such.
The reason why Botswana hangs killers is to warn others who may be thinking of committing similar offences. If we abolished it, I bet levels of crimes would escalating.” said the security guard.
Barulaganye Mmolawa, 40, did not mince her words in condemning the death penalty.She believes that only God should decide who dies and who lives.
“Why doesn’t the government sentence murderers to life in prison with hard labour.
We aren’t God! Neither are we above God. God is the one who made us all and He is the only one who has the right to decide who should live and who dies.
The hangmen too are committing a crime when they hang criminals! They too must be killed for killing others”she said.
Despite professing to be a devout Christian, Alec Sebotso of Maunatlala said the death penalty should not be abolished.
“ The reasoning behind capital punishment is to make sure that killers do not get away with murder simply because they would otherwise know that they are assured of free accommodation in prison and three meals a day for the rest of their lives for ending someone’s life.” he pointed out.
“Indeed hanging the killer does not bring the deceased back to life but at least it reduces the number of killings.
Even when one is provoked there is no justification for taking away another person’s life. hanging the killer is answering for his sins,” said Sebotso.
Another death penalty supporter Kennedy Fungwane said.
“ If you mess up in the kitchen , who cleans up? The same principles applies with the death penalty, you kill someone you are answerable.”
Having said that the pensioner went on to point out the Vision 2016 pillar of ‘ being a just and a caring nation was a joke.
“It was put in there to protect corrupt people in the upper echelons of the society against prosecution and conviction for their many white collar crimes.
The pillar is not applicable to an ordinary man like me because if I kill they will surely drag me to court and deal with me accordingly ,” he said.
Base Mokwena (50) said death by hang was still relevant particularly when applied to those who carry out brutal murders of innocent people.
“ Those who kill for ritual purposes or because their lovers don’t want them anymore should be hanged straight away.
If we abolished the death penalty people would kill as they pleased.”
“In cases of self defence and unpremeditated murders I think the law should consider a lesser sentence,” suggested Base.
Meanwhile President Ian Khama was also quoted in the local media stating that because of capital punishment the crime of murder was not common in the country.
“Criminals who shoot people think twice before undertaking such a heinous crime. They are aware that they would be sent to the gallows.”he said.