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Impact of the Death Penalty on Criminalty

NCJ Number
Jolandi le Roux
Date Published
17 pages
This document discusses the issue of the death penalty in South Africa.
The death penalty was first introduced in South Africa by colonial powers in 1652. This widely used law was initially imposed for crimes such as rape, murder, arson, fraud, sodomy, incest, public violence, and theft. Describing criminal punishment in South Africa during the 17th and 18th centuries as harsh and brutal, the article indicates that in the latter part of the 19th century, the courts began restricting the death penalty to the offences of murder, treason, and rape. There was no uniformity in the statutes relating to the death penalty in the 19th century, and the death penalty issue in South Africa has long been a controversial topic because race has often played a key role in the imposition of a death sentence. After briefly discussing relative and absolute theories of punishment, the article notes that the protection of society plays a key role in sentencing in South Africa. Detailing the constitutional change that took place in South Africa on April 27, 1994, the article describes an individual’s right to life and to dignity as the most important of all human rights. South Africans should be proud of their new Constitution and their Bill of Rights which have effectively ended the dark history of apartheid in South Africa.