Convicted rapists freed after judge errs

2013-06-05 12:14

Supreme Court of Appeal judges have overturned the verdicts and sentences handed down in separate cases by a Limpopo judge to two convicted rapists.

The judges found, in both cases, that “serious irregularities” and “ignorance” had occurred on the part of Judge K Hetisani, who had heard the cases in the Limpopo High Court in Thohoyandou, Beeld reported today.

In the first case, Tshifhiwa Nemavhola was immediately released.

Hetisani had sentenced him to life in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl.

The appeal court judges found that Hetisani had made his judgment without the state having proved its case.

In addition, Nemavhola had an alibi who placed him 170km from the rape on the day of the crime – at his place of employment.

Hetisani, without a calendar, calculated mentally that it had been a Saturday, and that Nemavhola could therefore not have been at work.

The appeal judges consulted a calendar and determined that the relevant date was, in fact, a Wednesday.

In the second case, Masotaha Tshilidzi had pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent assault, but not guilty to a charge of rape. The prosecutor had accepted this plea.

But Hetisani committed a “serious irregularity” by refusing to accept the plea.

In both cases, both convictions and sentences were set aside immediately.

Hetisani, who had since retired, could not be reached by Beeld for comment.

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