Pretoria - A Limpopo man who spent six years in jail after having been wrongly convicted on murder and robbery charges now wants R14.1 million in damages.

Businessman Samson Ralukukwe, who was declared a free man by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, said in papers before the North Gauteng High Court the police and the director of public prosecutions maliciously prosecuted him.

He said they relied on a statement made by one of his co-accused, David Cica. According to Ralukukwe, Cica made the “false” statement under duress and after being tortured.

He was one of six accused convicted by the Venda High Court in March 2000. Ralukukwe was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment following the killing of a mechanic at Sibasa in Limpopo.

He was convicted on strength of the statement made by Cica, which was accepted as evidence by the trial court. This was after a trial-within-a trial was held to determine its admissibility. At the time, it was alleged the averments made in the statement were fabricated by the police after they tortured Cica.

The trial court, however, ruled that the statement - the only evidence against Ralukukwe - was admissible.

He was jailed from April 7, 2000 until May 26, 2006.

He was only released after turning to the appeal court, which subsequently overturned his conviction and sentence.

The appeal court found that the trial court had incorrectly allowed and subsequently used the statement against Ralukukwe, and that without it there was no evidence on which he could be convicted.

The appeal court also expressed its concern that two of his co-accused may have been incorrectly convicted on the same basis. The judges called on justice centres to urgently appeal on their behalf. It is not know what happened to their cases.

In papers before the court in Pretoria, Ralukukwe said that prior to his conviction, he was the sole member of Northern Shield Security CC, a money-lending business, a debt collecting business and a computer training business.

Since his conviction and sentence, he could not attend to his businesses and had thus lost all his income.

He is also claiming for general damages and said for six years he had to remain in prison when he was an innocent man.

The police denied any wrongdoing.

According to them, Cica voluntarily made a confession which implicated Ralukukwe in the murder and robbery.

The justice and correctional services minister was on Tuesday added as a party to the proceedings. No date has yet been set down for the hearing.

Pretoria News