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Fatunetwork has headlined the story linked below entitled:

Three people are arrested for allegedly beating alleged thief to death”.


Infact, the “alleged thief” is a home-intruder (burglar) as the story makes clear on further reading.

Protecting Self And Family In Own Home 

The law recognises that one has a right to defend oneself and family in own home.

We all remember what happened in the Gambian coastal village of Sanyang last year. The thief broke into someone’s house armed and when confronted stabbed someone to death: an innocent man protecting his friend’s property was killed by the thief/robber.

Here in UK, the Government advise at clear:

Using reasonable force against intruders 


You can use reasonable force to protect yourself or others if a crime is taking place inside your home. 

This means you can: 

Protect yourself ‘in the heat of the moment’ – this includes using an object as a weapon 

Stop an intruder running off – for example by tackling them to the ground 

There’s no specific definition of ‘reasonable force’ – it depends on the circumstances. If you only did what you honestly thought was necessary at the time, this would provide strong evidence that you acted within the law”.

Home intruders generally operate during the hours of darkness, when families are most vulnerable at home. It is also during these hours of darkness that you are not able to assess the danger from the intruder: is he a sixteen year old kid who is unarmed – or is he a 100kg 6ft brute armed with a machete? You cannot tell, and therefore if the homeowner picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed the intruder to death that would be considered “reasonable force” in the “circumstances”. If the thief is running away and is in the process of climbing the wall of my garden, it would not be “reasonable” for me to chase him with my kitchen knife and stab him! But the fact that the adrenalin rush may cause an over-reaction will be taken into account. It is unlikely, therefore, that someone would be prosecuted for harming or killing a home intruder, whether in The Gambia or in the UK. Even know criminals have a right to defend their home:

Kenneth James Noye is an English criminal who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Stephen Cameron in a road rage incident while on licence from prison in 1996. He was arrested in Spain two years later and convicted of the crime four years after it occurred. A former police informant, Noye was acquitted in 1985 for the murder of a police officer on the grounds of his home”.

The police officer had decided to undertake an under-cover investigation at Noye’s home in the middle of the night and entered his garden, upon which Noye’s dogs started barking. Noye’s defence to murdering the officer was that he thought he was dealing with a burglar. The jury acquitted him. Our Civic Educators should educate the home intruders (burglars) accordingly.

Thieves Outside The Home – In The Market, Etc. 

It is a different matter when crowds chase an alleged thief in public spaces and beat the thief to death, or even harm the thief. In these circumstances the law only allows you to “arrest” the thief and call the police. In East and Southern Africa it has become a habit of crowds to chase and beat to death anyone pointed at with the shout of “thief!”. This is pure savagery and should not be tolerated in a peaceful country like The Gambia. If a crowd kills a thief in a public place instead of arresting the thief and calling the police, all engaged in the beating should be charged with murder and be sent to Mile 2 for a long time. Our Civic Educators should educate the public accordingly.

Here is the link to the Fatunetwork story that inspired this write-up: 

Dida Jallow-Halake

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