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Death penalty in South Africa? Can we? Should we?

Columns 3 months ago

As calls for the death penalty increase, we’d do well to ask if we can, before asking whether we should.


24 Jun 2020
PREMIUM!
Death penalty in South Africa? Can we? Should we?

Hangman's noose. Picture: iStock

The short answer to the above question is an emphatic NO! But your auntie complaining about crime over Sunday lunch will probably need more convincing than that. When the principle of Ubuntu was invoked in every law students’ first court case reading – S v Makwanyane, a 1995 case abolishing the death penalty in South Africa – our law was slightly different. While many may claim that Ubuntu is a part of our law, and in some respects, it may be for judges who dare attempt to define it, they don’t tend to consider a very deliberate and glaring omission....

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