DON’T abolish death penalty, because it’s biblical, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Pukuta Mwanza told a Parliament select Committee on Legal Affairs.
Rev Mwanza said the sixth commandment of the Bible of ‘you shall not kill’ does not refer to death penalty.
Rev Mwanza was speaking in a presentation submitted on his behalf by EFZ board member Rev Aaron Chilunjika.
Rev Mwanza said the sixth commandment instead referred to murder which was deliberate termination of another’s life.
“It is therefore incorrect to use this scripture to oppose death penalty as it does not refer to the functions of the state,” he said.
Rev Mwanza said to generalize the sixth commandment to say that death penalty was also murder, meant that all defence forces should be treated as guilty of murder who therefore should be convicted, executed or imprisoned for life and government procurement of arms used by the military personnel should be treated as illegal transaction if such arms were being used for inhuman acts. Rev Mwanza said killing that was related to the protection of the nation was a justifiable means of ensuring internal security of the nation and for the protection of innocent citizens.
He said death penalty was necessary for the protection of the general public while the opponents of death penalty claimed that it was not a deterrent to crime.
“When there is no fear of punishment, crime runs rampant. People will not fear committing an offence whose punishment is light or one which is not punishable at all,” Rev Mwanza said.
He said to allege that capital punishment was not a deterrent to crime in essence it meant that people were not afraid of dying, yet in reality, people feared death more than life imprisonment.
Rev Mwanza recommended the current classification of offences that required death penalty be revised.
“I propose that only murder be placed under death penalty and treason and aggravated robbery be placed under life imprisonment because they do not carry the same gravity,” he said. Rev Mwanza said the implementation of death penalty in Zambia had been weakened by the reluctance by Presidents to sign for the execution of those on death roll making murder convicts to not fear death sentence because they knew that their execution may not actually be signed.
“Lack of or limited execution in the past has affected lessons for fear of punishment,” Rev Mwanza said.