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

Peter Sinkamba
Peter Sinkamba

By Peter Sinkamba


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.

‚ÄúPolice 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. Good argument, Peter Sinkamba. 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 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.

  2. If indeed the UPND government respects human life, it should ensure the killing of criminal suspects by police is publicly reviewed by a neutral adhoc judicial body. Killing a human being is not the same as killing a mosquito.

  3. For some reason Sinkamba has left out the small fact that the suspected criminals opened fire at the police first and the police just reacted to the shooting! maybe to justify his point by understating the truth??

  4. Only if you have never put yourself in the shoes of those relatives whose family members are mercilessly murdered will you find grounds to discredit death sentence and this shooting.

    Some advocates for removal of death sentence would be the first to say “He or she must also die” if their children were murdered.

    We only Speak on behalf of criminals not the victims….

    Human rights activism in such cases doesn’t make sense, if a murderer is murdered let it be so please.

  5. Even if you demand that those that kill others also be killed, it does not bring back to life the dead when the death sentence is imposed. It merely satisfies the desire for revenge for those that lose a loved one. It is not justice! We do not demand that those that rape others also be raped. Do we? By demanding that those that kill others also be killed, we do not look any different from the killers or murderers themselves.

  6. Please ba UPND, if you know your Bibles well, if you know that the Death Penalty is sanctioned by God, you will not dare to remove an ancient landmark!
    Avoid “Tuchawa” as you blindly try to please your creditors!
    Tread very carefully on this one otherwise Muzatipaisa!
    Do not remove the only deterrent against murder!
    The presidency does not wield the Sword in vain! If you aspire for the presidency and you fail to sign the death penalty, then you are in the wrong office!
    First ask those who have been shot at or those who lost loved ones due to aggravated murders.
    If a thief comes to steal, murder and to destroy, why should you even entertain the thought of removing the death penalty?
    Not long ago, you removed traffic policing. Do you remember what happened? We lost relatives and friends to reckless driving!
    As for me, any thief who chooses to disturb my peace should come ready to die! Spare no thief!

  7. Romans 13:4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
    # Hands off the death penalty!


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