HARARE, Zimbabwe — Wanted: A hangman. High school education required. No experience necessary.
Zimbabwe’s last executioner retired after carrying out his last execution in 2004. The departure of the hangman, who was said to be struggling with his conscience, leaves about 50 inmates on death row at Chikurubi maximum security prison outside Harare.
Zimbabwe’s government has learned that finding a replacement is not so easy and, according to a prisoners’ advocacy group, it has even prepared a want ad to help its search.
Meanwhile, calls for abolition of the death penalty have gained steam.
Earlier this month, inmate 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 a former Zambian police officer, left after his contract with the prisons service and justice ministry expired.
His workplace was inside the Harare Central Remand prison, 12 miles from Chikurubi. The gallows are said to be of scaffolding and wood and appear to date from the pre-independence era.
Records show a total of 78 people have been executed in Zimbabwe since the African country won independence from Britain in 1980.