1989 Campaign against the death penalty – Country appeals series, Circular 26B -Action on South Africa during campaign phase two – South Africa: The death penalty – Update

Index Number: AFR 53/020/1989

This paper supplements AFR 53/03/89 with more specific information about the use of the death penalty in South Africa during the first half of 1989. At least 34 people were executed and 37 prisoners are reported to have had their sentences commuted to terms of imprisonment. A number of people have had death sentences overturned on appeal, which has both highlighted discrepancies in sentencing and has called into question current appeal procedures which allow leave to appeal to be refused by trial judges. In May, 14 people from Upington were sentenced to death on the basis of having shared a “common purpose” to murder, and 12 death sentences were passed in Bisho in a similar case. Several organizations and individuals within the country continue to campaign against the death penalty.

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