How An Innocent Pretoria Man Ended Up Spending 12 Years In Jail — Nigeria Today
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How An Innocent Pretoria Man Ended Up Spending 12 Years In Jail

After Johannes Albertus Maré from Pretoria was found strangled to death with a piece of curtain at his house, Lefu Jantjie Bakane and four others were arrested.

The incident happened back in June 2004, and officers recovered a number of items in the veld not far from Maré’s house that supposedly indicated the men were the offenders, reports News24:

The items included four television remote controls, which they believed were removed from his house when he was attacked, a woollen cap, a jacket and a knife.

The police believed that Maré was also robbed of his money as he ran a shop on the premises, read the judgment.

Bakane and his co-accused were quickly sentenced to life in prison for murder, and 15 years each for robbery with aggravating circumstances. The sentences would run concurrently.

However, Bakane pleaded not guilty to the charges and has since appealed the decision on multiple occasions.

According to Times LIVE:

In his judgment in 2009‚ the then-acting judge in the Pretoria High Court‚ Natvarnal Ranchod‚ referred to how the statement was obtained from the accused.

In 2015‚ two judges dismissed their appeal‚ but another judge found that the confessions should have been excluded in the first place‚ when the trial court found that the appellants were assaulted.

Now, after spending more than 12 years in prison, Bakane has been set free thanks to Justice Baratang Connie Mocumie [that image up top]:

“The appeal is upheld. The convictions and sentences are set aside and substituted with the following: The accused is found not guilty and discharged on both counts,” Mocumie said in her ruling on Tuesday.

Why? Because there was actually no evidence that Bakane committed any crimes. He had an alibi, no tests were conducted to prove he was present, and he was assaulted by the police who “obtained a statement from him despite his election not to make a statement”:

“It appears that the appellant (Bakane) was hoodwinked into making a statement which he consciously did not want to make,” she said.

Tsk Tsk – and Mocumie continued:

[T]he State failed to present evidence to prove that the jacket, woollen cap and knife found in the feld next to Maré’s house belonged to Bakane.

“It seems that no tests were conducted on these items in order to link them to the appellant and his co-accused, especially the appellant, who was arrested on the basis that he was seen wearing the jacket and woollen cap from time to time.

“It is of great concern that this case was compromised from the onset by the manner in which the police investigated it.

“The breach of a number of constitutional rights in this case which is supposedly common knowledge in the police force since the advent of our democracy; is still happening.”

She added: “It is more important now than ever‚ taking into account the violent history of our country‚ for trial courts to be more vigilant [in upholding] the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights‚ at the risk of abomination from society.”

Connie Mocumie for Public Protector? Hmmm.


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