NOT GUILTY: Nolubabalo Nomsuka is seeking legal advice for being sentenced to prison for a crime she did not commit. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency/ANA

DURBAN - SHE is struggling to rebuild her life after spending nearly six years in jail following a wrongful murder conviction.

Nolubabalo Nomsuka was arrested in December 2011 after she was accused of murdering her newborn son at Wema Hostel, near Lamontville, south of Durban.

The baby died as she tried to give birth on her own. The Lamontville woman, now 29, was 23 at the time and was still in school, in Grade 11.

“On the day of the incident I phoned my friend to come and help me go to the doctor because I was experiencing labour pains and got scared because I was only eight months pregnant,” recalled Nomsuka.

She gave birth by herself but the baby died during birth. She said after realising that the baby had died, she wrapped him in a blanket and waited for her friend and others to come.

However, when her neighbours finally arrived, they accused her of murdering her baby and called the police.

“It is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced,” she said. “There I was, mourning my son and they wanted me arrested for something I did not do,” said an emotional Nomsuka.

She was slapped with a life sentence, but it was later reduced to 20 years on the basis that she had a 2-year-old daughter, Okuhle.

In 2013, Legal Aid lawyers assisted her in appealing the ruling, and last month the Durban High Court ruled in her favour, acquitting her of murder.

“When the news finally sank in all I could do was cry. I think a part of me was mourning the time lost in prison and also the pain that I suffered alone without my family to comfort me,” Nomsuka said.

Her time behind bars has not been easy. She has had no visits from her family in the Eastern Cape, due to financial constraints.

“When you are in there you have to believe that there is something bigger than yourself otherwise you will go insane. I prayed a lot and also used the time to further my studies because I was doing Grade 11 when I was arrested,” she said.

Nomsuka completed her matric in prison and was halfway through her degree in business studies when she was released in November.

Her past six years in prison have been hard. She did not properly grieve her son’s death and had not even given him a name. She had to now perform a traditional naming ceremony for him to allow his soul to rest in peace, Nomsuka said.

While in jail her grandmother, Mathuwa Nomsuka, who lives in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape, raised Okuhle as Nomsuka’s parents had died.

The trio were reunited this week as Nomsuka had not been able to travel home due to lack of funds.

“I don’t know what would have happened to my daughter had my grandmother not been there,” Nomsuka said.

[email protected]

SUNDAY TRIBUNE