Sandra Smith and her lover
Yassiem Harris were convicted in
South Africa for murder and
robbery. Sandra confessed the
murder to a surprised police
officer while she was
interviewed about a theft. "I
wouldn't have been able to live
with it," she said.
During the trial the 22 years old
woman seemed embarressed
because her loveletters to
Yassiem containing sexually
orientated details were revealed
to the court.
On 22 December 1986 she was
sentenced to hang. As the death
sentence was handed down, she
became hysterical and was
struggling and wailing while she
was taken to the cells.
Sandra was given until 2 July
1989 to make herself ready to
have her neck stretched: On this
day she had her appointment
with the executioner.
The guards pushed her forward to the trapdoor to her position next to Yassiem, where
she had to give in and place her petite female feet on the much larger painted footsoles
on the trapdoor. Now the executioner pulled the modern-type noose over her head and
then covered her face with the front of the hood.
Suddently the trap was opened, and all 7 prisoners fell about 1 1/2 times their own
lenghts. Sandra was now swinging and making her spastic movements. She had lost
her slippers, and her unshackled feet performed their short spastic dance in the pit
before hanging still forever.
Sandra was taken to the Pretorial Central Prison to be hanged. Her executioner handled
her according to the execution protocol.
At 6.50 a.m. the hangman came to walk her to the gallows. She was wearing a prison
overall and slippers. Like all female executees she was forced to wear a diaper. She
was to be hanged together with 6 other male prisoners, including her lover. They met
for the first time in more than two and a half years, but her date was with the hangman.
The hangman cuffed her hands and pulled the white hood over her head. Her face was
not covered, because the front of the hood was turned backward over her head. Her
unshackled feet was urged to walk the 52 steps to the room next to the death chamber,
where she was given the opportunity to say her last words. As she was taken to the
death chamber, the look of the noose must have made her struggle and fight
Sandra was left hanging for 15 minutes,
before her body was stripped completely,
and she was declared dead. She was then
washed off with a hose. A rope was tied
around her naked body just under her
breasts. This allowed her to be lifted
enough to remove the noose from her neck
and take the hood off.
Sandra's limb body was taken down and
put on a gurney. Her swollen tongue was
not protruding, and because of her dark
skin the color of her face may only have
changed slightly into blue. The noose has
cut deep marks into her slender neck. It
has become prolonged and "goose-like".
A look from the pit. The chain hoist is
used for raising the trap doors.
A look into the death
chamber. It's brightly
lit and some 40 feet
long with white
Sandra couldn't live
with her crime, but
did she realize it
would mean this?