avatar for Thembekile Molaudzi

Thembekile Molaudzi

Wrongfully convicted exoneree who spent eleven years behind bars for a crime he did not commit
Johannesburg, South Africa
In July 2004, Pretoria taxi-driver Thembekile Molaudzi was sentenced to life-imprisonment by North-West Judge-President Monica Leeuw for the murder of a policeman. Though Molaudzi had protested his innocence from the moment of his arrest, his pleas fell on deaf ears. For eight long years, he was unable to appeal his case because of his inability to access his trial-transcripts – a Constitutional right. After the Wits Justice Project intervened and helped him obtain his records, his appeals were dismissed by both the North-West High Court and the Supreme Court. With only grade ten education under his belt, a determined Molaudzi spent his time behind bars studying the Constitution and Criminal Procedure Act. After Legal Aid refused to assist him further, he lodged his own Constitutional Court appeal with the help of a Unisa law student behind bars. This appeal was also dismissed. After spending eleven years behind bars for a crime he steadfastly claimed he did not commit, fate intervened. Two years ago, Molaudzi made legal history when the Constitutional Court reversed its own judgement for the first time, over-turned his sentence and conviction and ordered his immediate release. To date, Molaudzi has received no assistance or compensation from the State.

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