African Transformation Movement leader Vuyolwethu Zungula. Picture: Facebook

Johannesburg - The African Transformation Movement (ATM) is pushing for the re-introduction of the death penalty to deal with heinous crimes afflicting the country.

On Sunday, party leader Vuyolwethu Zungula confirmed that he wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise requesting that the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) be directed to hold public hearings on the re-introduction of the death penalty.

Zungula also confirmed that he wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for a referendum on the death penalty. Only Modise had responded to date, he said.

In her letter to Zungula, Modise said: “Your correspondence has been forwarded to the CRC for consideration."

Zungula said the decision to outlaw the death penalty was done by the Constitutional Court, but there was strong public opinion that it should be reinstated.

“We don't want the discussion to be limited to 400 MPs. It must be South Africans who say they want it or not,” he said.

Zungula cited the growing calls for the death penalty and petition he says attracted 700000 signatures as motivation for their submission.

He said the death penalty should be reserved for serial and repeat offenders who did not care about the lives of other people.

The CRC has dismissed representations it received on the death penalty over the years.

In its March 2019 report on 2016 submissions, the CRC said the reinstatement of the death penalty was in conflict with the Constitution which provides that everyone has a right to life.

Zungula was hopeful that the CRC would hold the public hearings at their request. “Once the Speaker refers a matter to a committee, the committee has no option but to do what the speaker says it must do.”

He insisted that it was not for the CRC to say the death penalty was unconstitutional, but it should rather take the matter to the public hearings like it did with the expropriation of land without compensation.

“Its role is to get views from the public on issues to be amended in the Constitution,” Zungula said.

In Botswana and Malawi, he said, they have the death penalty to deal with the problem of the killing of albinos, among other things.

In a recent parliamentary debate, Zungula argued that longer prison sentences were not good enough and the death penalty should be imposed on heinous crimes against women and children.

“We say the death penalty must go to referendum so that South Africans decide, not MPs or the executive. The problem is that there are people who govern not based on the will of the people but impose their ideas,” he said.

Political Bureau