There are 64 inmates on death row waiting for their punishment at Harare Central Prison but the hangman’s job in Zimbabwe has been vacant since 2005.
This was revealed during the familiarisation tour of the prison by Deputy Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Nobert Mazungunye who was accompanied by the Ministry’s permanent secretary, Virginia Nyemba.
Chief Superintendent Makawa Matipuhwa also revealed that there were also nine inmates with gunshot wounds who are being treated at the prison clinic.
“We have an excess of 435 inmates.
“Harare Central Prison includes Kentucky Prison, holding 100 inmates, who are among the 2005 inmates,” said Chief Supt Matipuhwa.
The last hangman retired in 2005, but the prison service had struggled to find a replacement. The job has been repeatedly advertised in the local media.
Amnesty International has been advocating for the abolishment of capital punishment.
Commenting on the issue, Mt Pleasant MP and top constitutional lawyer Fadzayi Mahere said the Constitutional Court “held that keeping convicts on death row for an inordinate period without effecting the death sentence amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”
She further pointed out that it was not necessary to put people on death row when there is no hangman.
“Zimbabwe has not had a hangman for decades. Why not? If we don’t want to hang people, let’s abolish the death penalty.
“Why must our policy positions in this regard be so contradictory with the result that an inmate sits on death row, in solitary confinement, in the worst of conditions not knowing what’s coming sometimes for decades? Why impose such torture on people?
“It’s worth pointing out that the death penalty was fully abolished for women in 2013. The only people who can be sentenced to death under our law are male murderers between the ages of 21 and 70 and only in aggravating circumstances,” she explained.