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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Death penalty: Should it be abolished?
A South African woman found guilty of a love-triangle murder in Botswana has been executed.

She spent a year on death row maintaining her innocence after a court found her guilty of murdering her best friend Ria Wolmerans, whose husband she later married.

Human rights activists have described the sentence as shocking and inhumane. Others maintain that the murderer got what she deserved.

How should killers be dealt with? Should it be an eye for an eye or is the death penalty simply a cruel and outdated punishment?"

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The death penalty is a dangerous sentence especially in countries where the legal system is weak. There is a danger that an accused person may be erroneously convicted. Usually, there are no advanced methods of proving guilt or innocence such as DNA. In some instances, poorly qualified lawyers represent people accused of committing murder. Whilst the retributive function of the penalty is open to debate basic, mistakes that occur when proving guilt or innocence render the sentence unsafe. In some countries, numerous people condemned to death are posthumously cleared of their alleged crimes.
Patrick Masiyakurima, Zimbabwe


I commend the Botswana government

Mchaza, Botswana
Three Botswana men (black) were hanged on the same day in the late 90's for the murder of a white businessman. Did the world notice? No. I commend the Botswana government for demonstrating that the laws of the land apply to all, regardless of colour.
Mchaza, Botswana

I think the death sentence is a cruel and very inhumane act which has to be stopped. We cannot be talking about human rights protection and at the same time violating the rights of others. What if this lady was innocent? It is said that throughout she maintained her innocence of the killing of her best friend. I think Botswana should be sanctioned and pay a price for such a deadly and shameful incident.
Desire Timngum, South Africa

All murderers should be executed regardless of their race. President Mogae's reference to his being a retributist was refreshing given the humanistic nonsense spouted by so many world leaders these days.
Allan Robertson, Scotland

The danger in the "eye for an eye, tooth for tooth' concept is even more weakened by flaws in legal systems. How many times have we heard of people whose innocence is proven after 20yrs in jail.
Lloyd Cttoubi, Netherlands


The death penalty law is archaic and outdated

Lilian Kimeto, Kenya
The death penalty law is archaic and outdated. We should be thinking of ways to rehabilitate and reclaim convicted murderers. They deserve a second chance in life and the death penalty is not only brutal but a barbaric way of dealing with crime. After all how much has the 'noose' contributed to decreasing the ever-rising rate of murders across the globe?
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

Obviously, almost everybody has a strong opinion on this issue. However, my belief is that only those who have been unfortunate enough to have had their loved ones murdered are qualified to answer what is, perhaps, the most difficult question of all.
UE, UK/ Nigeria

I see some commentators are saying that, "No one has the right to take another's life." Yes, they are right. But does the convicted woman have the right to take the life of her victim? The death penalty should be there, not for innocent people, but for those who terrorise the innocent public - like this woman who killed her own close friend.
Akaki Zeraf, Abyssinia

The death penalty should not be abolished. The fact is, from man's earliest days, capital punishment has received strong and continuing public support and has survived repeated legislative and/ or judicial scrutiny. Look at the term itself - capital punishment. It is a legal and effective form of punishment. And if only one potential murderer, assassin or terrorist is deterred from committing a capital crime because he or she fears the death penalty, then that single act of deterrence has effectively reduced the loss of lives.
T. Max Beer Jr, Liberia, residing in USA


No one seems to care about the victims

Chris Bell, South Africa
The death penalty should be introduced to all developing and so-called Third World countries to remove the threat of serious crime from the population and so enable them and their country to develop and prosper through hard work and dignity. No one seems to care about the victims.
Chris Bell, South Africa

I think the death penalty is a crime against humanity. It should be abolished by every nation in the world. God gave life, who are we to take it in the name of justice? And what is the logic behind it? To cleanse society of evil? Please.
Hana, Ethiopia

It should not be abolished. It is appropriate punishment for those who kill others but do not want to die themselves and acts as a major deterrence in spite of what some people think. I am sure there a lot of those who would like to kill others but fear to do so because they are afraid to face the death penalty if caught.
Charles K. N., Uganda

What if the alleged killer is a mistake? If he is executed and later found to be not guilty, how do you get him back? Or can he be replaced?
Justice Novisi Y. Dzitrie, Ghana

Consider the number of people of all races executed around the world every day in a range of countries including the US. However disagreeable this barbaric medieval practice is, why did the British media choose not to confront this subject until a "white woman" was on death row in an African country?
James Nwocwuku, Nigeria

Have we ever posed such a question to the US Government?
Abebe G, Ethiopia


That's the way the law is in Botswana

Rossi, Botswana
Bosch knew exactly what she was doing when she murdered her "friend." She also knew what her reward would be if she got caught. She should therefore have thought twice about her intentions. Yes, she got what she deserved. That's the way the law is in Botswana. It is blind to a suspect's race and sex.
Rossi, Botswana

Due to the fact that the death penalty no longer exists in South Africa, the crime rate has increased dramatically. I think that Botswana is far more ahead of South Africa - good on them for protecting the innocent.
Linda Geldenhuys, Israel

This is the 21st century and we must stop these cruel, inhuman and barbaric acts at once. No one has the right to take someone's life. It does not make it right to kill a person because they took away a life. This puts us the same level as those who commit crime in the first place.
Teshome H, Eritrean/ Canada

The death penalty should not be abolished. For some crimes, it is better to kill rather than to increase burden on society.
Noman, Bangladesh

The death penalty can be used as a deterrent if carried out with impartiality. Unfortunately, as it is often in the West and prevalent in the lesser-developed economies, the well-connected and elite get way with murder while the impoverished are summarily condemned often without counsel - even a public one. Until we have some sort of level playing field, the death penalty will remain the perennial domain of the disadvantaged and should be scrapped forthwith.
Tonnyomutsani, USA

What has society gained from her death? She got away with it because she will no longer live to regret her actions. I wish she lived longer to understand that her actions are not acceptable in a civilised society.
Clement Tchiwaya, Malawian studying in USA


Why abolish the death penalty in Africa alone and not in the rest of the world

Pamela, Botswana
Why abolish the death penalty in Africa alone and not in the rest of the world? Those who are not aware, USA one of the superpowers still execute people proved guilty of such offences warranting the death penalty. Therefore, it is naive to advocate abolishing capital punishment in Africa and leave others alone. Botswana must safeguard the lives of all people within its borders/land.
Pamela, Botswana

I am originally from South Africa and my feeling is that while the death penalty is a cruel and savage practice, Africa is a cruel and savage place and unfortunately a necessary deterrent. If you are destitute with no welfare system to fall back on, a life in prison is an attractive option for Africa's poorest. Therefore, there is no incentive not to murder. This point is illustrated in the sharp rise in violent crime since the death sentence has been abolished in South Africa. To think that the death sentence is necessary is the kind of thought that sickens us in the First World, but we underestimate just how cheap life is in Africa.
Michael Zellhorn, UK

The Death penalty should be abolished! If the country has the power to kill someone who has committed a crime, who is going to judge the country if it has committed crime?
Xolani, South Africa

In my country (Botswana) we do not entertain unlawfulness, you commit a crime you pay. We can't have murderers roaming around the street. Obviously there was enough evidence, that is why she was convicted. Bravo to Botswana's judicial system.
Sharon, Australia (originally from Botswana)

If the USA can do it why not Africa?
Lawrence, Botswana

We want the death penalty back in South Africa. Criminals here are not scared of the current system and usually go back to murdering people once released.
John Louw, South Africa

I have a strong feeling that all those who believe in God must remember the Ten Commandments. One of these commandments is that no one shall kill. So if someone has killed that does not warrant the chief justice to order the killing of anybody. Above all and assured we are all expecting that almighty God will forgive us for all our sins regardless of their weight. So we must also learn to forgive others.
Donaven, Lesotho

I don't think that death sentence is cruel and should be abolished. But the execution should be. Don't kill those guys. Confine them and make them do hard work for the rest of their life in mines or plantations. They won't be a burden to the government and taxpayers since they are working. But we have to make sure that they are really isolated with no contact what so ever with the outside world
Dereje, Ethiopia

It is a shocking and terrible thing that such a punishment should still exist in modern times. Every year thousands of people are executed in the world. I find it strange that the issue should only be brought up when a white woman is executed - many, many black people are executed every year in Africa, but no mention is made of them in the press.
Alisdair Menzies, Switzerland (ex Zimbabwe)

I am very sure that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to people who commit crimes. But I am also shocked that while I was reading the news article, nothing was said about the United States, a country where some its states still have the death penalty. I believe this view to be biased and racist, especially where the hanged person was white. The way the United States is sovereign is the way African countries are sovereign. If we want to leave our death penalty, let us be.
Bimbo, US

Murder demonstrates a lack of respect for life, the sanctity of life and as such is abhorrent, and any law authorising capital punishment is immoral. An execution is a violent homicide that teaches the permissibility of killing people to solve problems. Reliance on the death penalty obscures the real causes of crime and distracts attention from the social measures that effectively contributes to its control. Our politicians preach the desirability of the death penalty as a weapon of crime control to deceive us and they mask their own failure to support anti-crime measures that really work. They shy away from helping us to solve our social and economic life problems.
Boiki, Botswana

See also:

02 Apr 01 | Africa
Love-triangle murderer hanged
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