When Sam Mulaudzi heard of his cousin’s acquittal, he went to the toilets at the Supreme Court of Appeal and wept. This after his cousin, Marcus Nndateni Mulaudzi, spent 10 years in prison for the murder of a prominent school principal – a crime the court found he should have been acquitted of.
Marcus was released from prison on May 6. “When the judges set aside his convictions, I went to the toilet and I just cried. After trying to help him for 10 years, we finally had a breakthrough,” he told News24 in a phone interview from Thohoyandou. “I believed in him, and I knew he wouldn’t do something like that and I wanted to help him. Jail is not a nice place. The thought of him being beaten up was haunting me. I really thought he was going to die in jail.”
Mulaudzi said during their appeal in the High Court, one prosecutor told him his cousin was “better off in jail”. “That made me more resolute to get him out of jail and then I thought if it can happen to him, then it can happen to anyone,” he said. His cousin’s legal fees cost him more than R500 000.
They had since decided to sue the State for R28m. With some of this money, Marcus wanted to open a non-profit organisation to help people convicted wrongfully. “He has lost a lot and he even came back home without a tooth. He also doesn’t have a job to sustain him and we just want people to give him a chance to prove himself. People should know that he is innocent,” he said.
He said Marcus’s wife left with his 18-year-old daughter, but his 23-year-old son stayed behind with his grandmother. Marcus studied woodwork and to be a motor mechanic while he was in prison. He also taught prisoners Venda in Grade 10, 11 and 12.
During an interview with News24, Marcus said that he was cleaning his cell on May 6 when he heard the news that he was a free man. He was shocked and had no idea that the SCA had heard his case. Advocate Mokotedi Mpshe said it took him 10 minutes to convince the SCA that Mulaudzi should be acquitted of the murder. In an unprecedented move, the SCA delivered its ruling on the same day. He was freed the following day.
The Limpopo High Court convicted Marcus on August 22, 2006, after his co-accused, Tshimangadzo Leroy Mushewu, said he was an accomplice in the killing of principal, taxi owner, and ANC leader Shavhani Ramusetheli.
He was sentenced to life in prison for murder and 10 years for robbery.
The high court denied his application for leave to appeal. He then approached the SCA, where Mpshe represented him.
The SCA found Mushewu was a poor witness who went to “great lengths not only to minimise his role at the expense of the appellant (Marcus), but also to exonerate himself”.
Source : News24