Stock photo: A 16-year-old who had been detained with serious criminals, for shoplifting a R49 pair of shorts, was raped in a bathroom.

Durban - A man arrested on allegations that he had taken part in the brutal murder of 79-year-old Sheila Hesk at her Pinetown retirement village in 2010 was freed from custody on Tuesday and would not stand trial.

The reason the case had been dropped was because the man who implicated him, convicted murder Siphamandla Nxele, who is serving life imprisonment for Hesk’s murder, had withdrawn his statement and there was little other evidence against him.

Nxele was convicted by Durban High Court Judge Esther Steyn in March 2010.

A month later, based on a statement he made to police, 23-year-old Andile Khuzwayo was arrested and has since been in custody.

His trial was set for later this month and Nxele was expected to testify.

Hesk’s daughter, Susan Hesk, said she was given the “devastating” news by the prosecutor that the trial was off and Khuzwayo was free.

National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisoon confirmed that the case would not proceed against Khuzwayo as ”a crucial witness” had recanted his statement and was intending to appeal against his own conviction and sentence. - The Mercury