'Death penalty a harsh punishment for those who stay behind'
A witness in the murder trial of South African Mariette Bosch‚ who was executed in Botswana for her crime in 2001‚ has reflected on the harsh reality of capital punishment.
This as Amnesty International released its 2016 death penalty statistics‚ which recorded 1‚032 executions worldwide – excluding executions in China. Executions worldwide were down 37% last year from 1‚634 in 2015.
In Southern African Botswana was the only country to carry out an execution‚ its first since 2013.
Psychologist Dr Louise Olivier‚ who testified for the defence in Bosch’s trial‚ said the death penalty is harsh punishment for those that remain behind.
“At that time what bothered me is she was executed without having a chance to say goodbye to her family. I remember many reporters phoned and asked how I felt about the fact that she was dead‚ and I didn’t even know. It was quite a shock.
“I think it’s harsh for the people that stay behind. It punishes them. It traumatises them. They didn’t do anything wrong‚ so why should they be punished.”
Bosch was hanged for the 1996 murder of Maria ‘Ria’ Wolmarans at Gaborone Central Maximum Prison. Police initially believed Wolmarans was shot in was a botched burglary but later arrested Bosch. Bosch‚ who was the mother of three children‚ and Wolmarans’ husband Tienie were lovers and married in 1997.
Despite petitions by Bosch and Wolmarans the Botswana government refused her clemency.
Reports at the time said that she was given no comforts in her final hours such as her favourite meal or a sedative before she was hanged.
Olivier has not had any contact with Bosch’s family since the trial.
When it came to the issue of capital punishment Olivier said there were no easy answers in her view.
“We’ve seen criminality increase because there’s no death penalty‚ but there can be people that lose their lives but are not guilty.”
Amnesty International’s regional director for Southern Africa‚ Deprose Muchena‚ said Botswana’s step backward must not be replicated elsewhere in the region.
“At a time when the number of countries carrying out executions around the world is going down‚ indicating that the world is moving away from this inhumane and degrading form of punishment‚ Botswana is the only country in the region still showing flagrant contempt for the right to life.
“While they didn’t carry out any executions‚ Malawi‚ Zambia and Zimbabwe continued to hand down death sentences. We urge all countries to abolish the death penalty.”
In Southern Africa 283 people across the region were under the sentence of death at the end of 2016. Zambia alone handed down 110 death sentences last year.
Overall the region saw a decrease in recorded executions while death sentences more than doubled.
Iran‚ Iraq‚ Saudi Arabia‚ Pakistan and China are the world’s top five executioners‚ Amnesty International said. For the first time since 2006 the USA was not among the top five‚ with its lowest number of executions since 1991.
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