Njabulo Ndlovu, 36, was incarcerated for 13 years for a crime he never committed.
Durban - WHEN Njabulo Ndlovu walked out of Westville Prison a free man last year, all he wanted to do was start anew and put his law degree obtained in jail to use.

Ndlovu, 36, was incarcerated for 13 years for a crime he never committed. While in jail he graduated with an LLB degree and hoped to find work upon his release.

In 2005, Ndlovu was convicted of raping a pregnant woman, but last year a full bench of the Pietermaritzburg High Court acquitted him after it was found that the magistrate had made numerous “unfortunate interjections” during the trial and that evidence such as DNA analysis, which absolved him of the crime, had not been taken into account.

The High Court upheld the appeal against his conviction and sentence and condemned the magistrate who had presided over his case.

But seven months after his release Ndlovu said he was struggling to find a job because his record still shows he is an ex-convict with a criminal record.

“I recently went for a job interview, and passed, but the law firm where I had been called for the interview informed me that the criminal record has not been cleared and that they were not be able to proceed with my application,” says Ndlovu.

“Luckily, I was honest and informed them about the case, but I did not know it had not been cleared,” he said.

Ndlovu said he was frustrated because he was misled about the process of clearing his criminal record when he was released from prison. “I was told the state would clear my name because I had been acquitted.

“I believe other companies where I had applied probably put my CV aside because of the criminal record.”

This week, Ndlovu returned to the Bhekithemba police station in Umlazi, where he was arrested more than a decade ago, to submit his application to clear his name.

“It will probably take some time to clear my name and in the meantime I guess I will be losing out on jobs. But prison taught me patience.”

SAPS spokesperson Thulani Zwane requested Ndlovu’s case number to follow up the matter.

Ndlovu said he intended to sue the state for millions of rands in damages for his wrongful arrest and conviction. He has served the state with summons.

The Department of Justice confirmed the claim but would not elaborate because the matter was in court.

Criminal law expert Anand Nepaul said in cases of clearing one’s criminal record based on being acquitted, the state prosecutor was expected to update the investigating officer, who would then have to submit a report to the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police.

Sunday Tribune