Africa-Press – Lesotho. THE Democratic Congress (DC) says it wants all willful murderers hanged if it wins next year’s elections. The party’s former leader, Pakalitha Mosisili, told a press conference that implementing the death penalty will deter murders in Lesotho.
Although the death penalty exists in Lesotho’s statutes, there has been a reluctance by the courts to implement it. There has been a shift away from imposing capital punishments to lifelong imprisonment for murder crimes since 1996.
The last death sentence imposed by a judge in Lesotho was in 1996. Since then judges have been handing out long prison sentences to the worst of offenders.
Mosisili’s call to execute the death sentence will likely trigger howls of protest from human rights organisations which are opposed to the death sentence.
They argue that the death sentence is a serious violation of the individuals’ right to life. Despite retiring from active politics two years ago, Mosisili remains a dominant figure within the DC.
His word still carries a lot of weight within the party. His statements at the press conference could be an indication that this was the DC’s official policy on the death penalty.
Mosisili said he had recently received a text message from a Mosotho in Botswana expressing concern about the killings and the manner in which the courts take the murders lightly.
He said the citizen wanted to know why the courts were not imposing the death sentence against murderers who kill others with impunity. More worryingly, he said the convicts go to jail for a short time while the family of the deceased thinks justice has not been served for them.
“The worried citizen reminded me of a case of someone who had their little brother killed and now the suspect is still roaming the streets freely,” Mosisili said.
He said the matter raised was “of concern to the whole country”. “There is a death penalty but the courts do not use it,” he said. Mosisili said delays of cases and granting bail to suspects without any serious conditions were not serving as deterrents to criminals.
He said he hopes the National Reforms Authority (NRA) will help transform the judiciary by setting up laws that support the rule of law. The DC Secretary-General, Tšitso Cheba, said they were ordered to call the press conference by their national executive committee.
He said while Lesotho had the death penalty on its books, judges are allowed to make a discretion even when a person has killed others intentionally. He said failure to implement these changes will result in revenge attacks.
Cheba said they want the death penalty implemented. “The government led by us will fulfill this immediately,” he said. He said before the death penalty is imposed there should be clear evidence that the murder was premeditated.
“Botswana always does it but it has never been expelled from both SADC and the AU no matter how much the international community discourages the death penalty,” he said.
For him, human life is valued in Botswana than in many countries in Africa due to the hefty penalties. Cheba said the death penalty will help to deter other criminals from committing the same offences.
He said the party met last week and discussed at length the rising murder cases in Lesotho. Cheba said the DC condemned the brutal killings of police officers in recent weeks.
He said about 12 police officers have been killed to date this year. He said the DC believed in the rule of law and wants suspects to be arrested so that they appear in courts of law.
Cheba said anyone who would be found committing a murder intentionally should face the death penalty if found guilty. He added that the DC dreams of a better Lesotho where peace will prevail and conflicts will be resolved peacefully.
“The DC is worried hence we met to discuss this issue.
Lesotho has been ranked number six in the world in homicides, making it one of the world capitals of murder.