Dad cleared of rape happy to be free
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Sifiso Cedric Shezi walked out of Westville Prison after 10 years on Wednesday, hugging his daughter whose now-recanted claims that he had raped her had led to his conviction and life sentence.
“I’m happy the truth is finally out. I have always tried to get out and told people that I am innocent,” Shezi said moments after being reunited with his family. He also met his grandson – his daughter Pinky Dube’s two-year-old son, Sibusiso – for the first time, and appeared to be in good spirits, although confused about what still needed to be done to permanently clear his name.
Shezi was released on R1 000 bail on Wednesday after spending 10 years in prison for a crime he allegedly did not commit.
Dube’s claims that she had falsely implicated her father when she was eight years old will now be investigated by a court of law.
In a new twist to the case, Dube made fresh claims on Wednesday, saying her mother, who is deceased, had molested her at the time in order to strengthen the rape case against Shezi.
Now 18, Dube smiled widely as she and her brother, Ayanda, 14, greeted their father. Pinky managed to muster a teary apology when she had a chance to publicly address him.
“I forgive her. She was still young when this happened and she did not know what she was doing… I have never spoken to her about this,” said Shezi when asked for a response.
He thanked the people who had helped secure his release, including Justice for Prisoners and Detainees Trust director Derrick Mdluli and his attorney, Professor Lindokuhle Mdletshe.
Shezi also thanked Pinky’s school principal whom he had written to in his quest to get his daughter to confess.
“Life was difficult there, Many prisoners have spoken of how they are in jail for crimes they did not commit,” he said.
On his plans for the future, Shezi said: “I don’t know, I’m still confused. It feels like I’m dreaming after being disappointed when I thought I was coming out last week.
“But future plans, we’ll see what I’ll do.”
Asked if they would sue the State for wrongful arrest and incarceration, Mdletshe said: “We are awaiting instruction from Shezi on that, but for now, I feel he is traumatised and I have recommended counselling for him.”
The lawyer said no DNA tests had been conducted at the time of Shezi’s trial and subsequent conviction.
Shezi’s aunt, Florence Shezi, was at the prison to welcome her nephew on Wednesday. She claimed Pinky’s deceased mother, Khulile Dube, had “molested” the girl and conspired with her policeman boyfriend, who had also since died, to implicate her husband.