Call for hangman to cut backlog
A backlog of prisoners waiting for execution has built up in Zimbabwe after the sudden retirement of the official hangman.
The man quit his job after he was said to be struggling with his conscience, now the government is desperately searching for a replacement.
About 50 inmates are waiting on death row at Chikurubi maximum security prison outside Harare.
Meanwhile, calls for abolition of the death penalty have gained ground. Earlier this month Shepherd Mazango won the support of human rights groups to appeal his death sentence and demand the abolition of the death penalty in the Supreme Court, the nation's highest tribunal.
"God knows when I am going to be executed. I am anxious about this every day," Mazango, who was convicted of murder in 2002, wrote in a recent court deposition. He said he and some others on death row feel they are losing their minds.
Zimbabwe's last hangman, said to have been an unnamed former Zambian police officer, left after his contract with the prisons service and justice ministry expired. A former top prison officer said that the executioner was always extremely remorseful about his job.
The government has prepared notices and an advertisement offering employment for a part-time hangman which have yet to be published, said Edson Chiota, of the Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender.
The job requires only a high school education but extra training would seem in order since studies have shown execution by hanging involves knowledge of body weight, human physiology, ropes, knots and basic mechanics.