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Death penalty: Botswana murder cases continue to escalate

Publishing Date : 20 January, 2020

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

Statistics collected recently indicate that murder cases in Botswana - one of the few countries still practicing death penalty – are on the increase. Capital punishment is seen as barbaric and outdated by some countries but Botswana has reiterated her position on it over time.


She (Botswana) is the only country in Southern African Development Community (SADC) that still upholds and practices the death penalty as other member states have either abolished the exercise in law or in practice. Official Statistics from Botswana Police Service passed to Weekend Post this week, suggest that 17 murder cases have been reported within a short 16 day period, over the past festive season from 20/12/2019 - 05/01/2020.The numbers for the whole of 2019 were not immediately available as the Police stated that were still being compiled at the time of press.


However, according to the Botswana Police Service Annual Report for the year 2016, a total number of 278 murder cases were recorded in 2015. In 2016 the number escalated to a whopping 305 murder cases registered. Botswana Police Public Relations officer Senior Superintendent Dipheko Motube also told Weekend Post this week that in 2017 the murder cases recorded reached a monstrous 315 from the 305 in 2016.  


In 2018, Motube observed that the number further escalated to 316, reaching an all-time high - while death penalty is still on practice. Jayson Chabota, Botswana Police Assistant Public Relations Officer (PRO), had revealed to this publication in an interview last year that “most murder cases recorded were as a result of killings related to love affairs and misunderstandings that erupted at drinking places.”


The death penalty is provided for in the Botswana Penal Code (which enforces capital punishment) section 202: “any person who of malice aforethought causes the death of another person by an unlawful copyright Government of Botswana act or omission is guilty of murder.”
It is also encapsulated in the country’s ultimate law being the constitution section 4(1) that: “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of an offence under the law in force in Botswana of which he has been convicted.”


While countries across the globe continue to dispose of the practice, Botswana still continues to enforce on it having executed approximately more than 55 people since independence in 1966, most of which were said to be men. Put mildly, Botswana carries out roughly 1 or sometimes 2 executions per year. Meanwhile, Botswana has maintained her position on death penalty over the years with recent pronouncement still on that angle.


“Botswana’s view on “the question of death penalty” remains unchanged, and the death penalty remains a competent sentence under the laws of Botswana,” the then Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Edwin Batshu told the 29th session of the third cycle review report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last year at Geneva, Switzerland. He continued to highlight that, in that regard, “government holds the view that the death penalty is not a human rights violation, or a form of torture, but rather a matter of criminal justice.”

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