DURBAN - A 35-year-old KwaZulu-Natal man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and spent almost 14-years in prison is considering suing the state.
Njabulo Ndlovu from Umlazi was acquitted last week, after being sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004.
Ndlovu was 19 at the time and was doing the second year of a law degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
During the trial evidence was presented that Ndlovu was nowhere near the crime scene but the court overlooked that, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
His friend and former university classmate stood by him until he was acquitted.
“The judges focused mainly on the magistrate that was handling the trial itself there were so many irregularities in terms of how the trial was conducted that’s point one, point two there was evidence more particularly the DNA evidence that was not introduced or that was not given to Njabulo as part of the documentation that he should have supposed to have known about it before the trial had commenced,” said Ndlovu's lawyer Andile Magubane.
Ndlovu says he never lost hope, and completed his law degree last year while still in prison.
During his years in jail, he had to pretend he was actually a criminal, in order to survive prison life.
Now he wants to get his life back on track.
“When I got to prison I programmed myself that since I’m here wearing this, I should tell myself that yes, I did the crime,” said Ndlovu.
“Even to others. So I told myself that I did the crime, and that’s how I lived. And that helped me a lot, because I was always thinking about the fact that I did not do the crime, and that would have destroyed me.”
The court reportedly also disregarded DNA test results which cleared Ndlovu of the crime.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha admits that such mistakes do happen.
“The mere fact that a court has found somebody guilty or innocent is not always the absolute reality of what actually happened the court can only do its best based on what is put before it and sometimes mistakes are made,” said Masutha.
The National Prosecuting Authority in KwaZulu-Natal declined to comment.