• Share
  • Read Later
Inmates on South Africa's Death Row cheered wildly upon hearing that the country's highest court had banned capital punishment. Over 450 prisoners had been in limbo since 1990, when the former government declared a moratorium on executions during the transition to democratic rule. The country previously had one of the highest execution rates in the world, hanging dozens of convicts each year. Although the decision is currently highly popular, especially among blacks,TIME Johannesburg bureau chief Scott Macleodsays the country's soaring crime rate may change opinions. "The draconian laws of the old regime were seen as being aimed chiefly at blacks, so they're against the death penalty. People will forget the old regime and want tougher laws for this exploding criminal class. Even though Mandela is against the death penalty, it may come back to haunt him in the 1997 elections if his party's seen as soft on crime."