Gallows Tale IV: The Hanging File of Tanganyika, the Financial and Psychological Advantage of Executing Locally!

Bukoba and Mwanza are on the shore of Lake Victoria—and Mwanza was town nearest to the British colonial office and at the time probably the larger of the two cities. As a result in 1922, the police in Bukoba were required to hang the condemned prisoners in Mwanza, which involved having three prison officers transport the prisoner to his execution by the ferries that operated between the cities. In other words, four third class tickets from Bukoba to Mwanza, and three tickets back to Bukoba.

In such a context, the Bukoba decided it needed its own gallows. As described in the memos below, an argument was made to the Commissioner of Police and Prisons in Dar Es Salaam, that erecting a gallows would pay for itself in a year, if the rate of executions was four per year as it had been in 1922. Doing their own executions in Bukoba would have, as a “responsible native” explained to the British District Officer in Bukoba, important benefits for security. This would be because “as the news of public execution by hanging or shooting has an extraordinary psychological effect on the native from end to end of the district.”

By the end of 1923, the gallows were erected, and Bukoba was proudly able to boast that on 7 November, 1923, five prisoners were hanged locally.

 

Extract from the monthly report for the month of April 1922

 

  1. 3 Crime

 

“ c. A responsible native, discussing the possible effect on public security arising from the transfer to Mwanza of all death sentences for execution, expressed his disagreement with the procedure, stating as his opinion that execution should be carried out not only locally but also in public, as the news of public execution by hanging or shooting has an extraordinary psychological effect on the native from end to end of the district. Similar opinions have been expressed to me at other times both in this district and elsewhere. It is hoped to produce an adequate effect by means of notices posted in all Courthouses, market and beer shops, throughout the district announcing the execution of a sentence of death on any local criminal.”

 

(sd) D. L. Baines

Senior Commissioner

Bukoba

7-26-22

 

 

Cost of Escorts and Fares.

Bukoba Executions at Mwanza

 

Pay of Escorts:-

1 Corporal      15 days…Shs. 23/-

3 Constables   15   “     …57/-Shs. 80

 

Fares

4     3rd class Return        47/68

1     “       “     Single             5/96

 

Four Executions for one year would cost Shs. 534/56

 

 

 

 

OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND PRISONS

                        DAR ES SALAAM 2nd August, 1922

Telegrams: Crime

 

Telephone: 73

 

The Hon’ble

 

The Chief Secretary to the Government,

Dar-es-Salaam

 

Re: Gallows at Bukoba.

 

I have the honour to inform you that the Superintendent of Police, Mwanza has made urgent representations for the erection of gallows at Bukoba. When the question was first raised, I ascertained that last year there were only 4 executions from Bukoba which were carried out at Mwanza, and I did not think that this number justified a separate gallows at Bukoba.

 

  1. The Superintendent of Police, Mwanza has, however, been discussing this question further with the Senior Commissioner, who urges on Political grounds that executions should be carried out locally. In support thereof, I enclose an extract which has been forwarded to me from his monthly report for April 1922. The Superintendent of Police states that he will personally supervise the erection of these gallows which are supplied by the Public Works Department would be approximately 400/-.

 

  1. Further, he submits a statement showing that the cost of the escort and the fares between Bukoba and Mwanza in connection with the condemned man works out at Sh. 133/64 for 4 executions during the year quite apart from the question of delay in carrying out executions. I think in these circumstances, the Superintendent of Police has made out a good case in support of his request, and accordingly I recommend that sanction should be given for the erection of the gallows at Bukoba.

 

Signature illegible

Commissioner

Tanganyika Police and Prisons

 

 

From THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE AND PRISONS

 

DAR ES SLAAAM, TANGANYIKA TERRITORY

 

Ref. No. H. Q. 55/D/23/16

 

To: The Hon’ble

 

The Chief Secretary to the Government, Dar-es-Salaam

 

Date 18th December, 1923

 

Execution by Hanging-Bukoba

           I have the honour to inform you that the gallows erected at Bukoba are complete, and that execution by hanging can now be carried out in that prison.

  1. Five such executions were so carried out at Bukoba on 7.11.1923.

But a problem will emerge—the best-laid plans of the British in Bukoba to undertake executions will be undermined, and the practice in Bukoba, at least, by 1924 or 1925 had ceased. More on the reason why next week, in the final extract (for now) from Gallows File V, The Hanging File of Tanganyika.

Previous Postings in this series

Gallows File I

Gallows File II

Gallows File III

 

 

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