The Wits Justice Project hosted a welcome home party for Thembekile Molaudzi who was imprisoned for 11 years for the crime he didn’t commit. Wits management, his family, friends and everyone who worked on his case came together at the Wits Club last night to celebrate.

TOGETHER AGAIN: Thembekile Molaudzi has been re-united with his wife Paulina Sheshabele  and their son.  Photo: Rafieka Williams

TOGETHER AGAIN: Thembekile Molaudzi has been re-united with his wife Paulina Sheshabele and their son. Photo: Rafieka Williams

Thembekile Molaudzi spent 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and last night he was able to celebrate his freedom with his family, the Wits vice chancellor and the people who worked on his release.

Molaudzi was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a policeman in 2002. Carolyn Raphaely, a journalist with the Wits Justice Project investigated Molaudzi’s case for more than three years.

Molaudzi said, “I’m not going to speak long, I just want to thank God and everyone who worked with me.”   He then asked his family to join him in a rendition of “Amazing Grace”, for guests. 

Molaudzi’s wife, Paulina Seshabele, also thanked the people who supported her husband; “I’m so happy, I don’t know how I can even express myself because every stress that I had is now gone”, she said.     Raphaely said Molaudzi is an extra-ordinary man who taught her the law, life, patience, persistence and forgiveness.  “I’m so grateful to have met you Thembekile, I’m proud to be your friend, I can only wish you the future you deserve”, she said as her voice faltered.  Molaudzi’s friend, Detective Abraham Fontos More, said Molaudzi was convicted before he became a police officer and he knew that he was innocent, “I was Thembekile’s hairdresser at the time he was arrested and I believed him when he said he was innocent.” He added that this was a lesson to him as a detective, “I learnt that you need to be extra careful before you arrest someone as a police. You need to investigate first.”

The vice chancellor, Professor Adam Habib apologised to Molaudzi, his family and colleagues for the experience he had to go through in a democratic South Africa.

“It was not only a violation of a human right, it was an example when a state’s capacity to deliver is compromised and how it can impact and have adverse consequences on ordinary people,” Habib said.