South Africa needs an effective legal remedy for wrongful convictions

“Thembekile Molaudzi spent 11 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, the murder of a policeman. While the only evidence against him was the statement of a co-accused who later recanted his testimony, his appeals were nevertheless dismissed.

Thembekile Molaudzi
Thembekile Molaudzi

Fusi Mofokeng and Tshokolo Mokoena are two friends who were at the wrong time and the wrong place after a police officer was killed by a self-defence unit just outside Bethlehem in the Free State, at the tail end of apartheid …there was no evidence against them except for a witness statement that was later recanted because that witness claimed the police had pressured him …”

In a recent Op-Ed, WJP Senior Journalist Ruth Hopkins gives an overview of wrongful conviction cases (in South Africa, the Netherland, and the United Kingdom) to illustrate the need of an independent body of experts to cross-check cases of wrongful convictions and refer those cases back to the appeals court. The commission would be independent of the executive and judiciary and function as a “diagnostic tool” for South Africa’s criminal justice system, which is inherently flawed.

Read the article as it appeared in the Daily Maverick, here. 

Read the piece as it appeared as a guest post in Fair Trials, here.

Ruth Hopkins

Ruth is an award-winning investigative reporter who writes about human rights and criminal justice issues. Her latest book, Misery Merchants, Life and Death in a Private South African Prison was published in February 2020. Learn more about Ruth.