The SA Constitutional Court abolishes the death penalty

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Constitutional Court logoConstitutional Court

Tuesday, 6 June 1995

On 6 June 1995 a historic resolution was taken by the Constitutional Court to abolish the death penalty. The court ruled that capital punishment, as provided for under the Criminal Procedure Act, was in conflict with the country's 1994 constitution. The ruling did not apply, however, to the crime of treason committed in wartime.

The Court ordered, with immediate effect, that "the State and all its organs are forbidden to execute any person already sentenced to death under any provisions thus declared to be invalid." The ruling followed the Constitutional Court's hearing on the death penalty which took place in February 1995. Until the use of the death penalty was suspended in February 1990, South Africa had one of the highest rates of judicial executions in the world.

Recently, a South African citizen, Muziwokuthula "Muzi" Madondo, 33, was arrested in Texas on 28 March 2011 in connection with four murders; this sent shock waves when he was required to be prosecuted in a death-penalty state. According to experts Madondo confessed to the murders of Maritzburg College old boy Zanzele Mdadane, First Merit Bank vice-president Jacquelyn Hilder in Ohio, and the murders of father and son Bobby Gonzales and Gabriel Baca in New Mexico. Reports also claim that Madondo rejected the South African embassy's offer to put him in touch with his family.

References:

Anon, (n.d.), ‘The Constitutional Court abolishes the death penalty,’from South African History Online, [online] Available at www.sahistory.org.za[Accessed: 11 May 2011]

Anon, (2011), ‘South African seeks death penalty in US,’from The Citizen, 01 May, [online] Available at www.citizen.co.za  [Accessed: 11 May 2011]

Anon, (2011), ‘Madondo wants death penalty,’ from News Time, [online] Available at www.newstime.co.za  [Accessed: 11 May 2011]|

 

  1. Kalley, J.A.; Schoeman, E. & Andor, L.E. (eds)(1999). Southern African Political History: a chronology of key political events from independence to mid-1997, Westport: Greenwood.

Last updated : 13-Oct-2015

This article was produced by South African History Online on 02-Jun-2011

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