“I support death penalty, but not Botswana’s” – Mishingo

I support the death penalty. Im not a retributionist though. I just think ‘henious crime- serious punishment.’ its a personal thing.

However, I dont support Botswana’s Death Penalty. Our Justice system is flawed to the core! Where death penalty is prescribed, the wheels of justice must be well oiled. Honestly, sometimes it feels like those who are hanged are the unlucky ones. I had difficulty explaining to my interns how Mosalagae was hanged, when some of our clients at the firm were not hanged!

The Constitution provides that every one Accused of murder must be provided with a lawyer at the ‘expense’ of the state. The govt must pay a lawyer to represent them! In reality, this system is under-resourced, and so many lawyers just don’t do that work. Some lawyers, like me and Andrew Jonannes, do it only out of a sense of duty. We do the work at a loss/opportunity cost. No financial gains. This system is unfair to the Accused persons who are guaranteed representation by the Constitution. Unfortunately, the role of lawyers in a trial can never be over-emphasised.

Our Justice system is incredibly slow. It takes for ever for any Trial to be concluded. Our Court reporting systems are archaic! Mosalagae was hanged this week, for an offence ya 2012! 2012! They hanged a different person from the 2012 man! Imagine if you did something ko Standard 5, o bo o ta o se shapelwa ko ga Form 5!
So in BW, the death penalty is not a deterrent! Therl be noise when a person is arrested, courts will be full. But eventually, with ALL cases, they fade into oblivion, until after about 3/4 years when the trial begins. There are delays everywhere, by the Police who start the process, then the DPP, and eventually the court which tries the offender. So as Batswana, we cant feel that there is justice, whether we support the death penalty or not.

Further, we dont have a Constitutional Court, as a final arbiter. I dare say that sometimes our Court of Appeal gets it wrong, and there is no where to go after that!

In some cases, 2 cases of similar circumstances have been decided differently by the CA! (N.B I have proof!) So sometimes we lack Consistency at the highest court. In my career as a lawyer, I did 2 cases where I represented people on death row. In both, the conviction and sentence were overturned! They went from death row straight home! Yet in another case I did, the same court confirmed the death penalty, for a somewhat similar case.

The flaws in our system of judicial appointments are also well documented.

So tota if we wish to continue hanging people, thers a lot to be done to clean our system. Justice must work for everybody: the deceased and their loved ones, the Accused, the community at large, law and order…

We cant just celebrate the last stage. We have to be satisfied with the entire process!!

-Mishingo Jeremiah

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