Appeal acquits man convicted of rape
A man falsely convicted of rape is free at last, three years after a magistrate sentenced him on evidence the appeal judge described as ‘unsafe and unsatisfactory.’
59-year-old Tshupelo Ditshupo walked free from prison last Thursday after his 10 year sentence for raping his maid was overturned. Explaing his decision Francistown High Court Judge, Professor Solo said that in the absence of corroborating medical evidence much of the case had been based on the complainant’s testimony.
“There is the issue of penetration and whether the appellant indeed had vaginal penetration of the complainant. Apart from the say-so of the complainant is there corroboration on that aspect? I need observe here that corroboration on that aspect appears wanting,” the judge noted.
Describing his emotions a jubilant Ditshupo said: “When I heard the words ‘acquitted and discharged’ I just froze. It felt like I was dreaming. I thought I had been found guilty again instead. It is only now I realize that I am free at last.”
Telling his story, Ditshupo, who has been widowed since 2004, said that the only ‘offence’ he committed was shouting at the maid he had hired to take care of his then 11-year-old daughter when they lived in Francistown. A couple of weeks into her employment he had cause to repremand her, and in revenge she had falsely accused him of rape.
Ditshupo, who had no legal represenation at either his trail or during his appeal, said: “I was convicted merely because the lady said she had been raped.
“It is a shame that nowadays people can just say they have been raped and their words will be taken as truth. But at least the judge saw through the lies and gaps in the evidence.” These gaps, Ditshupo pointed out were obvious even to a fellow inmate who urged him to appeal to the High Court. “I had given up, and was just looking forward to a Presidential pardon. I felt that if an innocent man can be put behind bars once by the system, the same system would do it again.”
According to the father of three, the fact that his case was first heard by a female magistrate may have acted to his detriment. “The magistrate seemed to take it personally and let her emotions and affection towards fellow women cloud her judgment.”
He explained that the appeal had taken so long because for a year his file had gone missing. Now with three years of his life taken away from him, Ditshupo is looking forward to just seeing his children, especially his last born daughter (14) whom he has not seen since being convicted.
But at a time when support from a partner would have been welcomed, Ditshupo revealed that the woman he lived with prior to serving time has since moved on and had a baby by another man.
Making his first calls since his release, he spoke from the Voice office in Francistown to clearly delighted family members. After that he headed home to Mogapinyana to pick up the pieces of his life.
Ditshupo will be looking into pursing compensation from Government for his time in prison, but before he takes on the system the drill operator by trade just wants to get a job and get back to normality.