Following the sentencing to death of former Chilanga Member of Parliament Keith Mukata last week, execution of death roll convicts is back again as a hot issue publicly debated.
I remember this issue hotly debated during my participation at various levels during the 2012 constitutional consultations at district, provincial, sector group and national levels. The debate went in favour of pro-death sentence advocates. I was one of them.
The fact that the majority of participant voted in favour of death sentence was the reason this sentence was retained in the Final Draft Constitution of 2014 which was released into public domain by President Edgar Lungu, who at the time was Justice Minister.
I still very much remember issues raised by participants including: the morality of executions; whether or not executions are a deterrence; issues of retribution; issues of irrevocable mistakes in cases where an executed convict is later found innocent; issues of the cost of keeping death convicts in prison perpetually at unlimited cost to the tax payer; the issues execution of a convict versus inhuman conditions in prisons; issues of convictions due to quality of legal representation as a consequence of poverty; the need to bring closure to families of victims, etc.. Those in support of abolishing the death penalty mainly pointed to the possibility of an innocent person being executed.
Let’s face it, some crimes are so heinous and inherently wrong that they demand strict penalties – up to and including death. As a society we have the responsibility to punish those who deserve it, but only to the degree they deserve it. Our judges impose death penalty for the most heinous murders and the most brutal and conscienceless murderers because the punishment fits the crime.
Moving forward, I think those of us who intend to contest the presidential elections in 2021 should make a commitment before the elections whether or not they will sign execution orders. Speaking for myself, I will definitely sign execution orders within 30 days after the Supreme Court or Constitutional Court confirms the death penalty.
Voters must know beforehand that I will not hesitate to do so after the due court processes because only criminals convicted of the most heinous crimes are placed on death row. Voters should also know that I will do so because I feel for those left behind, the grieving families, and their loved ones, who do not deserve anything less than justice.
Further, I do not think that death penalty is inherently unfair and biased towards the poor and cannibals. Whatever the feelings are toward the death penalty, one thing most people will never know is the pain experienced when a family member or family members are brutally tortured and murdered or indeed are victims of the robbery themselves. Those who feel it know it.
Having been a victim of an armed robbery before, with a gun pointed to my head, and the robber’s finger ready to pull the trigger, I understand the pain and agony victims of armed robbery go through towards the final moments before the bang. The experience is extremely nerve-cracking for the faint-hearted.
Thank God that in my case, before the robber pulled the trigger, I garnered invincible, divine energy. I disarmed him. Instead, I pulled the trigger myself. The rest is history. Not so many experience such miraculous chances.
Lastly, unless executions resume, robbers will start insulting the judges when they pronounce such sentences. Already, one can see the cheekiness and remorselessness in death-sentence convicts because they are confident they will after-all be pardoned within months. So, what the heck!~
4th March, 2018