Political standpoints dominated the execution of three convicted murderers at Salisbury Central Prison, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), on Thursday, March 7th, 1968. Although James Dhlamini, Victor Mlamabo and Duly Sahdreck were “reprieved” by the Queen, they were still hanged a week later.

The country’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965 was, according to the view of the British Government, illegal. Therefore the executions, the first to be carried out under UDI, were also illegal.

The Rhodesian courts took the view, however, that since the country was independent of the UK, the authority of the Queen was irrelevant. When the independence debate dragged on, the court in Salisbury also decided that Rhodesian law overrode the rights of the men to petition the Queen, even though she was still officially head of state.