According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, hangings took place in South Africa prior to the unification of the two Boer republics and the two British colonies in 1910 and they continued after Union. Between 1910 and 1975, altogether 2,740 people were executed, and another 1,100 between 1981 and 1989. This would bring the total to around 4,000, yielding an average of 50 a year over 80 years. Until it was abolished, capital punishment had been implemented not only for murder but also for rape, housebreaking and robbery or attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances, sabotage, and training abroad to further the aims of communism, kidnapping, terrorism and treason.
We did not call for the return of the death penalty but the people of South Africa did. ATM supports the call for the return of Capital Punishment in South Africa due to these calls. It came to being when most of the communities we visited across the country voiced out their concern for the rampant killings and abuse of Women and Children. Other calls included the Protection of our Borders, addressing Human Trafficking and Drug Abuse, High Rate of Unemployed Youth and many more which are well discussed in our Manifesto. We then went back to our members through our commissions and discussed the issues we came across. The issue of creating a safer South Africa was then re-visited and discussed in full length. It was after these deliberations were a resolution was taken to return South Africa to its citizens as they felt and believed that the country is run by criminals.
“In order to maintain respect for the law is essential that the punishment inflicted for grave crimes should adequately reflect the revulsion felt by the great majority of citizens for them. It is a mistake to consider the object of punishment as being deterrent or reformative or preventive and nothing else. The truth is that some crimes are so outrageous that society insists on adequate punishment because the wrongdoer deserves it irrespective of whether it is a deterrent or not.”
Judge Alfred “Tom” Denning
As much as murder and other heinous crimes such as armed robbery are said to have decreased over the two decades but the rise in political killings, rape and hate crimes against the LGBTQI community and people with albinism have demanded the party to act against those who infringe on other people’s basic human rights, such as, the right to life in a non-racial and non-sexist society. This is coupled with the fact that, South Africa have the highest murder rate compared to other countries.
According to comparative data published by the United Nations, South Africa has a very high murder rate of 32 per 100,000, much the same as Colombia, although lower than El Salvador, Honduras, and Jamaica. Our murder rate is nevertheless very much higher than those of countries that include Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland (all between 0.7 and 1.3 per 100,000). Figures for other countries include Mexico at 18.9, the United States at 3.8, India at 3.3, Hungary at 2.7 and Morocco at 1.3. Among this last group of countries, both the United States and India apply the death penalty, but Hungary has abolished it.
The IRR also accepts the notion that – “the history of capital punishment in South Africa cannot be divorced from the apartheid system, which meant that judgement in the past was imposed on black people by white people. In 1994 some 98% of the judges on South Africa’s superior courts were white, a proportion which has now dropped to 36%. Africans constitute 44%, and Coloured and Indian judges 10% each. The multi-racial character of the courts may give them greater credibility, but that in itself is no guarantee that racial prejudice one way or the other will no longer be a factor in judicial decisions.” – with this fact in mind, ATM plans to make sure that capital punishment is set aside for the most gravest of crimes and it is not prejudice to any race or social class but is delivered in a just and proper manner.