HARARE, Zimbabwe — A South African woman was sentenced by Zimbabwe's High Court to 25 years in jail today for spying although the judge said she deserved the death sentence.
The accused, Odile Harrington, 27, pleaded not guilty to espionage but admitted collecting information on the African National Congress black nationalist group for South African intelligence.
Judge Wilson Sandura described Harrington as an "unrepentant and determined spy."
He went on: "In my view imprisonment is not the most appropriate sentence in a case such as this. The most appropriate sentence in this case is the death penalty.
"The penalty for this offense was fixed in the old Rhodesian days when the threat posed by the spies was not as real as it is today.
"As things stand today, severe and deterrent sentences are called for in cases such as the present. . . . I wish to warn all spies that this country will not tolerate them. If they are caught they will receive severe sentences."
Harrington told the court that she had been ill-treated by members of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization after her arrest and that she had tried to commit suicide.
During her weeklong trial, she admitted being infiltrated into Zimbabwe to become an ANC courier.
She was caught when she asked a policeman in Harare to post an envelope full of information to South Africa.
The ANC is outlawed in South Africa and ANC bases have been the target of South African raids into neighboring black-ruled states.
Throughout her trial, Harrington proclaimed her loyalty to the white-minority South African government, saying it was "mocked, insulted and slandered by the world" despite its efforts to get rid of apartheid.
She said blacks were not ready for one-man-one-vote in South Africa and that the ANC and other such organizations should be eliminated.