Convicted rapists freed after retired judge’s errors

The Beeld reported on Wednesday appeal court judges found, in both cases, that "serious irregularities" and "ignorance" occurred on the part of Judge K Hetisani, who had heard both separate cases in the Thohoyandou High Court in Limpopo.

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 made his judgement 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 that the day on which the crime occured was a Saturday and 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 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, the convictions and sentences were set aside immediately.

Hetisani, who has since retired, could not be reached by Beeld for comment. – Sapa

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