'Death row inmates' appeal unnecessary'

HARARE - Emmerson Mnangagwa,  the minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,  and government’s chief law officer Justine Ulandi, have opposed a court application by two women on death row seeking the commutation of their death penalty.

Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (Zwla), representing the death-row inmates — Rosemary Margaret Khumalo and Shylet Sibanda on a pro-bono basis, approached the Constitutional Court in Harare seeking an order directing the minister of Justice and the prosecutor-general to take steps to ensure that all sentences of death imposed on women be set aside and substituted with appropriate sentences. Zimbabwe’s new Constitution spares all women as well as men under 21 at the time of the crime and the over 70s from the death penalty. It also prohibits the imposition of the death penalty as a mandatory punishment.

“The constitutional application by the three applicants is both unnecessary and an abuse of court process,” Ulandi said.

Sibanda is a 28-year-old woman who was convicted of theft of a motor vehicle and of murder by the High Court of Zimbabwe, sitting in circuit in Mutare in October 2010.

She was sentenced to death on the charge of murder.

She was jointly charged with her husband Tongai Zireni Mutengerere and a family friend Darlington Nyaungwe.

Sibanda is currently in solitary confinement at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

Khumalo is a 69-year-old woman convicted of armed robbery and murder with constructive intent.

She was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for armed robbery and given the death penalty on the murder charge.

Khumalo is currently incarcerated at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

Like Sibanda, Khumalo is appealing to the Constitutional Court to order the minister of Justice and prosecutor-general to arrange for her to be immediately brought before a competent court which must set aside the sentence of death imposed on her and substitute it with a new sentence.

Ulandi said in his speech on the occasion of the official opening of the 2014 legal year that it was not in dispute that Khumalo and Sibanda were lawfully sentenced to death in terms of the former Lancaster House Constitution.

Ulandi said the current Constitution does not operate in retrospect.

“Hence, the imposition of the death penalty on Khumalo and Sibanda cannot be said to be a violation of their constitutional rights,” Ulandi argued.

“They had no such constitutional rights at the time of the imposition of the death sentences.”

Mnangagwa said work is being done to align the laws to the Constitution.

“I actually agree with applicant’s observations in this regard, and wish to point out that the Attorney General’s office is working diligently to align all legislation to the provisions of the Constitution,” Mnangagwa said.

“This will be achieved under a General Laws Amendment Bill which will be produced at Parliament during the course of this year. The media in this country have, as a matter of fact, reported that government is attending to this exercise of aligning legislation to the Constitution, and applicants should therefore be aware of the existence of this exercise.”

The Justice minister said the application has been wrongly placed before the Constitutional Court.

“It is clear that Section 48 (2) (e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe confers a right on all persons, the right to seek a pardon or commutation of their death penalty from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.

“Such a right extends to all women in terms of section 48 (2) (d), and includes women in the situation of applicants upon whom the death penalty was imposed prior to the promulgation of the Constitution, but in respect of whom the sentence has not yet been carried out.”

Ulandi said the Registrar was currently working on a raft of measures to stop litigants from approaching the court for ulterior motives, with no intention whatsoever of pursuing the matter to finality.

“The reforms will ensure that all approaches to the Constitutional Court are genuine requests to have a Constitutional injustice redressed and the Constitution respected,” he said.

Comments (5)

vanhu vemuzimbwabwe mese murimarabishi you must all get arrested how can someone gets a million $ per month when you claim to be under sanctions . MR Commander in chief lets have Salary controls.Your economy no one must get salary above $8000 in zimbabwe whether CEO or or any minister.look your civil servents including your educated perm secretary they get $500 less than$1000 thus reasoble amount for that economy. Mr comander in chief musanyegerere munhu wether its e palastatal or municipality dzingai imbwa dzese masalaries ngaaenderane ne economy yenyika yedu. vanhu varikutambura .vanoda mari idzodzo ngavaende ku America vandopiwe mari idzodzo. Munyika yamai Gushungo apa tinoda Kuona simba renyu chairo chairo nekuti apa paita vasveta simba

DOFO - 6 February 2014

Did the reporter/Editor read their own story??? Saka Mnangagwa wada kuti vaurawe papi iye achiti they are aligning laws ne new constitution?? This hatred of Ma Karanga and Mnangagwa in particular is getting frustrating...tichakutemerai ma office! nxa!

wezhira wezhara - 6 February 2014

And the same women shout for gender equality. Why do they want to be have lesser punishment than men for similar crimes? Who then do they say they are equal to? If women propose to, in certain circumstances, treated differently from men, then to hell with this gender equality nonsense.

machakachaka - 6 February 2014

eye 4 eye life 4 life .why kill

bigman - 6 February 2014

eye 4 eye life 4 life .why kill

bigman - 6 February 2014

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