Murder is classified as unlawful taking of a life, hence a capital offence and in most statutes around the world, attracts either life in prison, execution by lethal injection, firing squad or simple hanging.
In centuries past, when religious edicts governed the pulse of society and were the sole barometer of integrity, justice and governance, religious book-based laws recommended an eye-for-an-eye, life-for-a-life as a suitable and widely accepted form of retribution and deterrence.
Modern society is slowly shedding this as even murderers are deemed to retain some humanity, dignity and a right to have their human rights respected because they may have committed murder due to diminished capacity or other extenuating circumstance.
However, not all citizens readily ascribe to this line of thought and are wont to mete out “instant justice”, deeming the rigmarole of court process too lenient, slow, corruptible or prone to manipulation.
The spike in lynchings by mobs from Busia to Kisii, Mombasa to Homa Bay, Kisumu to Nairobi and Meru, oblivious to police warnings of the illegality of taking of human life without due process, is testimony to the realities of our world.
Entreaties by police not to resort to mob (in)justice have so far fallen on deaf ears as rustlters, suspected night sprinters, petty thieves and defilers of children are being taken through the lychmob grinder.
However, some murders are hard to explain, such as the slaughter of five watchmen in Homa Bay town. Was it a deal gone sour? Did the guards recognise their assailants thereby necessitating the massacre to eliminate witness testimony?
All Points Bulletin
What do neighbours have to say? What about initial police investigations? Are there firm leads or is this a dead-end, since the dead don’t tell any tales? Senseless slaughter of five old men for a few DVDs and cellphones, which can be so easily traced is one case that needs boulders turned over.
Is it time to revisit the debate on arming of night guards with deadly weapons? Will better training and better remuneration attract leaner and better crop of guards? Can there be an All Points Bulletin (wide alert) be issued on all the serial numbers of the stolen merchandise? Are there instances where wananchi are justified in meting out “justice equal in measure and severity” that thugs employ?