Durban - THE call by the IFP for a national debate on the reinstatement of the death penalty to reduce/deter the high rate of violent crimes would be a premeditated discussion that a country needs the death penalty, said a political analyst.
Bukani Mngoma felt the country should, instead, be discussing ways to curb the high violent crime rate and then make the death penalty one of the recommendations.
“We should also be discussing why people are being murdered and why there is an escalating number of violent incidents,” he said.
Mngoma said there was no evidence to suggest that the lack of the death penalty contributed to the increase in the rate of violent crimes.
He said although there were other countries, such as China, that practise the death penalty, the dynamics of South Africa, as a third world country, were completely different from that of China with the largest population, different cultures and practices.
“What we should remember is that our Constitutional Court found that the death penalty was not consistent with our Constitution,” said Mngoma.
The IFP’s chief whip and the party’s national campaign committee chairperson, Narend Singh, told the Daily News on Monday that, although their research was not yet conclusive on the success of bringing back the death penalty in order to address violent crimes, the party believed that the death penalty would deter people from committing serious crimes.
Singh said the overwhelming response from South Africans was they wanted the return of the death penalty.
He said the crime statistics showed that 57 people were being murdered on daily basis - the largest number of which were children - which is a cause for concern.
“We have been calling for a debate on the issue for about six years now. We are saying let us discuss it. We went around collecting signatures and a lot of people indicated they were fed up with crime and they wanted a discussion around this issue,” said Singh.
He wrote to Parliament last year in the hope that a discussion about bringing back the death penalty could be started. “Although the matter has not yet been discussed in Parliament as per the IFP’s suggestion, the current state of crime in South Africa needs to be addressed and an alternative punishment must be considered for heinous crimes.”
He added that the death penalty should not be used to punish all criminals, but rather those who a panel has decided deserve such a serious punishment.
Professor George Devenish, a Constitutional Law expert, felt the death penalty debate “was not an urgent matter”.
Devenish, a former chairperson of the Society for the Evolution of the Death Penalty, said his research had shown that the death penalty did not deter crime.
He said there were more urgent issues to be debated such as corruption, poverty, joblessness and inequality. He felt if these instead were addressed, it would lead to less violent crimes.
“The death penalty is not a magic solution that will make crime disappear. I have great respect for the IFP, its leader and some of its policies.
“They are entitled to call for a debate, but I’m against the death penalty as a resolution to the rate of crime because we are the most unequal country in the world, where more black people with no access to justice were executed,” he said.