South Africa: Calls for Reinstatement of the Death Penalty Are Futile


Using an-eye-for-an-eye approach by reintroducing the death penalty does not tackle the root cause of the high rate of gender-based violence in South Africa.

The year 2019 saw an unprecedented public uproar against gender-based violence in South Africa. What appeared to be the main spark of the social outcry was the rape and murder of 19-year-old UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana in late August by a 42-year-old male employee at the Clareinch Post Office in Cape Town, Luyanda Botha.

Soon after the news of the murder broke nationally, about 300,000 people signed an online petition to the South African government and the Office of the President of South Africa. The petition was initiated by an organisation called Agent Of Change and it called for the death penalty to be reinstated in South African law and imposed on perpetrators of violent crimes.

This article looks at how reintroducing the death penalty would be considered constitutionally reprehensible by any South African court. The reader will be reminded of the landmark Constitutional Court judgment of S v Makwanyane and Another (CCT3/94) [1995] ZACC 3. This judgment was issued in the first case by the Constitutional Court, which sat for the first time on 14...

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