YEAR OF HELL UNTIL JUSTICE AT LAST

TAKING LEGAL ACTION: Sechaba Mohlala has been acquitted of his robbery charge.PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO. 16/04/2010. © Sowetan.

Sechaba Mohlala from Soweto speaking to Sowetan after being acquitted of his robbery charge. He spent 11 months awaiting trial for robbery. PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO
TAKING LEGAL ACTION: Sechaba Mohlala has been acquitted of his robbery charge.PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO. 16/04/2010. © Sowetan. Sechaba Mohlala from Soweto speaking to Sowetan after being acquitted of his robbery charge. He spent 11 months awaiting trial for robbery. PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO

A LACK of proper police investigation made it impossible to convict robbery suspect Sechaba Mohlala.

A LACK of proper police investigation made it impossible to convict robbery suspect Sechaba Mohlala.

This was said by magistrate Robert Button, who dismissed all charges against Mohlala, 26, in the Protea magistrate's court on Friday.

After 11 months in custody Mohlala is finally a free man.

Only one person testified. Mohlala's accuser, Thabo Moloi, said he was driving on the night of May 2 2009 when a group of people in the road forced him to slow down.

The window on the driver's side was shattered. Moloi testified that he felt blood running down his face and his neck, and that he "alighted from the car" to inspect his wheels.

A man, whom Moloi insisted was Mohlala, grabbed him from behind while another person threatened him with a knife and a third relieved him of his personal firearm that was tucked into his pants.

Mohlala denied the claims. He said he was one of two people accused by Moloi of stealing the weapon. Neither Mohlala nor his corroborating witnesses testified during the trial. After cross-examining Moloi, Mohlala's lawyer applied for a discharge of the accused in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Button said though he found Moloi's testimony credible, it was not enough to establish the identity of his attacker beyond a reasonable doubt.

He also said the lack of tangible evidence made it impossible for him to convict Mohlala. The firearm was not found and no fingerprints were taken.

Mohlala intends to take legal action against the police.

lSteyn is a member of the Wits University Justice Project, which investigates miscarriages of justice.

X