Being unemployed is hard, but add a criminal record into the mix – wrongfully convicted or not – makes finding a job close to impossible.
Investigative Journalism - Wrongful Convictions
None of the exonerees who journeyed to Memphis from all over the US traveled light. With an astonishing 3,501 years behind bars clocked up between them for heinous crimes they did not commit – including arson, murder, rape, and robbery – these “innocents” of all ages, stages, colours and creeds carried heavy emotional baggage. The majority also bore an enormous debt of gratitude to Innocence Network lawyers, some of whom had worked for years to secure their release. A former Soshanguve taxi driver, Thembekile Molaudzi, was there.
After spending five years in jail for a crime he always claimed he did not commit Daniel Brilliance Sehloho is supposed to be one of the lucky ones whose wrongful conviction has been overturned. Instead, he believes his problems really started when he was released. By CAROLYN RAPHAELY for Wits Justice Project.
When Dineo Kgatle walked out of Baviaanspoort prison into the purple haze of a hot Tshwane day a year ago, he had two things on his mind: caring for his elderly mother, and suing the State for his wrongful arrest and the traumatic 26 months he had just spent behind bars.
Thanks to the combined efforts of the Wits Justice Project, human rights attorney Egon Oswald, advocate Carol Steinberg and wrongfully convicted co-accused Thembekile Molaudzi, two men have left prison carrying little else besides a heavy burden of betrayal by the criminal justice system.
The year is 1994, a few weeks before South Africa’s first democratic election, and two security guards are murdered at a Checkers supermarket. One man is convicted, Anthony De Vries, and after 17 years in prison he still claims to be innocent. An eight-part podcast called Alibi will explore if Anthony is guilty or innocent. As the story unfolds you’ll discover car chases with the cops, bullets buried in video shops and a wheelchair-bound, incredibly friendly bank robber.
After spending nearly 11 long years behind bars for the gang-rape of 24-year-old Mpho Suping, Sabelo Ngani was released on parole from the Johannesburg Correctional Centre last month while still loudly protesting his innocence and claiming he had been wrongfully convicted.
On the first anniversary of his release from Kgosi Mampuru (Pretoria Central prison), the wrongfully convicted former inmate says he’s still recovering from the 13 years he spent behind bars for a crime he did not commit: “It’s not easy to regain everything I lost. There’s a stigma attached to spending time in prison. People don’t trust you, they fear you. The hurt is still there. It’ll probably stay with me forever.”
“Thembekile Molaudzi spent 11 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, the murder of a policeman. While the only evidence against him was the statement of a co-accused who later recanted his testimony, his appeals were nevertheless dismissed.
After 3 years of investigation by senior WJP journalist Carolyn Raphaely, Thembekile’s story was featured in several prominent newspapers around the country. Read Carolyn’s groundbreaking accounts of Thembekile’s lengthy battle below: