The newly appointed Chief Justice, Terrence Rannowane says the death penalty has not worked as a deterrent to murder.
Rannowane said this when delivering his maiden speech at the opening of the legal year on Tuesday at the Gaborone High Court.
Weighing in on what he described as a disturbing increase and alarming prevalence of murder cases in the country, the concerned CJ noted that, “What is also troublesome and worrisome is that the hovering and imminent presence of capital punishment seems to be of no deterrence to the perpetrators.”
Rannowane further observed that, “This issue cannot be treated with sleight of hand and left to the courts alone but instead requires the concerted efforts of all concerned stakeholders as it is now an albatross and if allowed to simmer any further will morph into a national crisis.”
Statistics indicate that although murder incidents declined from 2017, they still remain at an all time high with 278, cases reported in 2015, 305 cases in 2016, 315 in 2017 and 294 in 2018.
“As a country we are recording unprecedented horrid, gruesome and shocking incidents of murder cases, even beheadings with some bodies being buried incomplete. The situation has become endemic. One rhetorically asks, what has become of us,” he said.
The CJ however cautioned against mob justice, even when the perpetrator is alleged to have committed a horrible crime as that of murder.
“Intricately linked to the concerns of high levels of murder cases, are instances where members of the public take justice into their own hands, we cannot and must not allow ourselves to entice others to take the law into their own hands, irrespective of the circumstances. We are governed by the rule of law and not the law of the jungle,” Rannowane warned.
The Chief Justice has also vowed to commit to resolving murder cases at the earliest convenience.
“On our part as the courts, we commit to resume circuit court in murder cases not only to expedite such cases but for deterrence and closure to take root in the community where the heinous crime was committed, subject to the availability of financial resources,” he said.
Rannowane further said that they are looking into moving murder cases to the High Court from the moment of arrest of the accused persons.
“This will afford magistrates more time to manage their own cases,” he said