Thursday, June 20, 2024

Zambians Generally Support Death Penalty: The Case of 6 Suspected Criminals Gunned Down By Police in Lusaka


The UPND Government has embarked on an excersize to abolish death penalty. I understand that bills will be presented in parliament soon to actualize the UPND dream of abolishing death penalty in Zambia.

Death penalty or capital punishment, is a Constitutional issue entrenched in the Bill of Rights. To effectively abolish it, Government needs to amend the Bill of Rights. And to do so, Government needs to conduct a referendum so that more than 50% of citizens in Zambia, who are holders of NRCs, not voters cards, approve of the abolishing of capital punishment. In the failed referendum of 2016, abolishing of death penalty failed. So, if Government merely scraps of death penalty from the Penal Code or other laws without amending the Constitution, such changes to the laws will be unconstitutional and therefore illegal. A constitutional challenge of such laws in the courts of law can surely lead to reversals of the purported abolishment of death penalty.

One good example of Zambians’ support for death penalty is the gunning down of six suspected criminals Lusaka two days ago. You will recall that police in Lusaka West shot dead the suspects after a heavy exchange of fire?

In a statement on Saturday, Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga said the incident happened after police received intelligence information that some suspected criminals were about to stage a robbery at a Chinese company along Kasupe Road.

“Police yesterday around 14:00 hours engaged in a heavy exchange of fire with six dangerous criminals who were armed with an AK47 rifle and regrettably six lives of the criminals were lost. This occurred on 4th November, 2022 around 14:00 hours along Kasupe Road in Lusaka West.”

I was keen to see whether there was going to be anyone who was to protest the extra judicial killing of the suspects. It was all dead silence. Not even UPND which claims to support abolishment of capital punishment protested the extra judicial killing of the suspects.

The the general public point of view, the dead silence was proof that Zambians generally support capital punishment. Otherwise, condemnation of the police on all media platforms would have been deafening.
But from the side of the UPND, the dead silence on the extra judicial killings was something else. It was deafening proof that the Party lacks grounded principled on capital punishment. For, if UPND approves extra judicial killings, one would justifiably question the Party’s grounded theory to detest and abhor a form of capital punishment that is sanctioned by courts of law after exhaustive appeal processes but applaud or approve extra judicial killings.

To be clear to my followers, extra judicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or any legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are unlawful by nature, because they break the process of legal jurisdiction in which they occur. Extra judicial killings are carried out by the state government or other state authorities like the police and armed forces.

So, if the constitutionality of amendments to capital punishment laws will not be challenged in courts of law and take effect, it will be interesting to see how the laws will work out: rejection of court sanctioned capital punishment but approval of extra judicial killing system.

Or will both types of capital punishment be abolished?

Only time will tell!


  1. How do you describe the incidence as EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING in which criminals were shot and killed in gun fire fight with police. the criminals were armed with an AK47 Rifle and fired at the police. so if it was the police who where killed what would you’ve called it.
    EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLING is when the police or State kills a non threatening or subdued arrested or captured person or suspect instead of subjecting them to judicial process. In this case police responded to a report of armed criminals and the criminals were ready to kill
    And just how does this become a UPND issue as this has been happening in the long history of our country.
    And how does this confirms that Zambians love the death penalty?
    The writer needs to do his research before he writes and be objective and lastly…

  2. What I have observed is that the call to abolish the death penalty comes from NGOs and not the general public. Submissions by members of public to the Mun’gomba Commission were in support of the death penalty and those that submitted cited the manner in which some criminals kill their victims as justification not to abolish it. So if the UPND desires to make that amendment, let them consult the people and not through sponsored individuals like we saw in the MMD. Those that have never had such nasty experiences talk loudest. When one prominent Lusaka lawyer was bundled in the boot of his X5 together with son by criminals he stopped his advocacy for criminals’ rights. Let’s be sober in our approach to sensitive issues

  3. Good argument, Peter Sinkamba. Though it would be good to carry out a survey with the public and hear from them if they support the shooting down of criminal suspects in a Christian Nation. However, in support of Sinkamba’s argument, we wish to state that even if the death penalty were to be removed from the statute books, the carrying out of extrajudicial killings would still constitute death penalty by other means. If UPND indeed thinks the death penalty constitutes disrepect for human life, then a UPND government should also not endorse the killing of criminal suspects. Such extrajudicial killings do also constitute disrespect for human life where the police in certain cases may use extrajudiciual killings to settle scores with some criminal elements in society. Therefore, there is…

  4. … need to ensure that even when the shooting of criminal suspects is carried out, such actions are reviewed by some judicial body so that they are not in any way arbitrary in the same manner that the action of the hangman has to reviewed by some kind of adhoc judicial body at Mukobeko Maximum Prison.

  5. Very cheap Article..! It is like saying once the death penalty is abolished there will be no need for guns for both the police and other defence forces.
    You are better than this Mr Sinkamba.

  6. Is this the same Bill of Rights (Liberties) they are tampering with that invoked a flopped referendum that was shanned by a certain group six years ago? Are they today ready to be embarrassed like they shamed their opponents in 2016?

    It is a requirement. Anything bordering on such rights is not for Parliament to deal with, but calls for a plebiscite.

    However, it is utter fo-lly for this write up to suggest the gunning down of criminals in a crossfire is synonym with capital punishment, which citizens don’t want abolished.

  7. Please dont confuse capital punishment with death sentence, police responding to ccriminals who could have killed inocent people should not be aligned with UPND or detah sentence. The review is to abolish the death sentence NOT capital punishment. Dont mislead us. Armed criminals will still be dealt with guns by those that the state has empoered with the monopoly of use of arms. the police and the the army. Infact we should uphold the death sentence. It up to the rulers whether to sign death warrants or not. For those that plead guilty, let them hang too.

  8. It is very important to understand. The Government only said they have started the process of amending the constitution.
    The opposition would be in good mind to ask where the process begins. Of course starts with Parliament whether or not we can have a referendum.

  9. People on death fow are undergoing capital punishment. The legally authorised killing of someone as punishment for a crime committed is termed as Capital Punishment. Be enlightened, dont be Imute.

    • Yes, these are still extra judicial killings because there were no death warrants issued by the court. The circumstances of the whole incidence may have called for the police to respond to gun fire with gun fire, but the legal argument still remains that the killings were done without a court order. However, this is not a criminal case against the police because they are trained to respond to gun fire with gun fire,

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