'I even blamed God' - Limpopo man who spent 10 years in jail for murder he didn't commit

2016-05-30 08:14
Marcus Mulaudzi (Supplied to News24)

Marcus Mulaudzi (Supplied to News24)

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Bloemfontein – Marcus Nndateni Mulaudzi was busy cleaning his prison cell on May 6 when he heard the news: After 10 years in jail, he had been acquitted of murdering a prominent school principal and was free.

He was in such a state of shock that he was unsure of what to do next.

"I didn't know what to do when I was told I was a free man. I was so scared, I thought it wasn't me and I stood at my cell for a while because I was still in disbelief - so I decided to just pack my library books that I was using and then I was told again that I had to leave and that a car was waiting for me."

He had to swop one of his prime possessions in prison - his radio - for casual clothes to wear for his release.

His cousin, who had always believed in his innocence, had arranged for a lift.

"My cousin had sent someone to pick me up and then I went straight home.

"The first thing I noticed when I was released was that everything was so new. It took me time to recognise people."

Appeal

He had no idea that the Supreme Court of Appeal had heard his matter.

“I wasn’t aware that my case was being heard in court and I never thought the day would come for the authorities to listen to my case again, I had lost hope,” he told News24 in a phone interview from Budeli village near Thohoyandou.

In an unprecedented move, the judges of the SCA delivered their ruling on the same day that arguments were heard; and he was freed the following day.

“I will never forget the day I was told I was a free man, but I always knew that if the [Supreme Court of Appeal] heard my case I would be acquitted,” Mulaudzi told News24.    

"I will never forget May 6."

Mulaudzi was convicted by the Limpopo High Court on August 22, 2006 when his co-accused, Tshimangadzo Leroy Mushewu, said he was an accomplice in the killing of principal, taxi owner and ANC leader Shavhani Ramusetheli.

The high court judge denied his application for leave to appeal, so he had to go straight to the SCA, a much longer route, and he was represented in the appeals court by Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe.

Mulaudzi and three other people who were not part of his appeal, were charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted murder at the time.

He was sentenced to life in prison for murder and 10 years for robbery.

But the SCA found that Mushewu, who testified against Mulaudzi, was a poor witness who went to "great lengths not only to minimise his role at the expense of the appellant but also to exonerate himself".

It further said the first accused was the only witness who gave incriminating evidence against Mulaudzi at the trial.

'I don't think I will ever forgive him'

Speaking to News24, Mulaudzi said he only met his co-accused two days before Ramusetheli was murdered.

“I was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for something I never did. The first accused was never my friend and on the evening of the murder, I had parked my employer’s taxi and I went home, so I was very confused when I was arrested,” he said.     

He added that had it not been for his cousin, Sam Mulaudzi, who helped with his appeal, he would still be in jail. 

“The first few years in prison were horrible because I couldn’t accept the conviction. I kept asking myself why I was convicted for something I never did – I even blamed God for what had happened to me.  It was also very hard seeing the first accused in prison. I don’t think I will ever forgive him,” he said. 

He said when he arrived at home on the day he was released he learned that his wife left with his 18-year-old daughter, but his 23-year-old son stayed behind with his grandmother. 

Mulaudzi studied woodwork and to be a motor mechanic while he was  in prison. He also taught prisoners Venda in Grade 10, 11 and 12.

“I did a lot of things in order to adjust to the environment but now that I am a free man I will have to find a job and not depend on my mother financially.”

Read more on:    polokwane  |  prisons  |  crime

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