Zimbabwe has not been carrying out the death penalty because it does not have a hangman, the state prosecutor says.

Olivia Zvedi was responding to a case brought by death row inmates who want the uncertainty of long periods on death row to be declared unconstitutional.

Their lawyer said keeping them on death row like this was a “degrading, inhuman punishment as it caused psychological anguish amounting to torture”.

The inmates want their death sentences to be commuted to life imprisonment.

The last time a prisoner was hanged in Zimbabwe was in 2005.

It had been thought that the position of hangman, which was vacant for eight years, was filled in 2013.

But today’s statement by the state prosecutor suggests otherwise as she said “people were not readily” available to respond to such advertisements.

There are 76 inmates on death row, some of them for 20 years.

The Constitutional Court will rule on the case at a later date.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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