AN INNOCENT MAN’S QUEST TO CLEAR HIS NAME
After much heartache and countless sleepless nights, a Francistown taxi-driver’s journey through hell is finally at an end.
Having served the last 32 months of his life in jail for a crime he did not commit, a crime that did not exist, 38-year-old Meshack Morapedi is finally a free man.
The father-of-one’s nightmare began on the evening of 13th June 2013 and a passionate night of love-making with his mistress of one month.
It turned out to be a night he will never forget, but not for the reasons he was expecting.
The love soon turned to hate as the woman (who cannot be named for legal reasons) accused Morapedi of rape.
To his dismay and utter disbelief, he was convicted and sentenced to a six-year prison term by Francistown Magistrates Court in November 2015.
Desperate to prove his innocence and avoid losing six years of his life rotting in prison, Morapedi appealed the decision, convinced that the truth would set him free.
However, the High Court rejected his appeal and added an extra two years onto his sentence in August 2016.
Devastated, frightened and increasingly frustrated, Morapedi refused to give up and immediately began plotting his next appeal.
This time, with the help of Kagiso Jani from Ditiro, Tshekiso and Jani Attorneys, Morapedi took his case to the Court of Appeal.
Last Friday, having spent almost three years of his life as a convicted rapist in the company of some of the country’s most hardened criminals, Morapedi was officially declared innocent and released from jail.
Humiliated, ridiculed but ultimately vindicated, Morapedi must now pick up the pieces of his shattered life
It will not be easy, but, as the mild mannered man told The Voice in an exclusive interview on Tuesday morning, whilst he is finally out of jail, for him to be truly free he must forgive the woman whose lies put him there.
“Even though I thought about revenge, I realised the best way to put all this behind me will be to focus on getting my life back together. I’ve forgiven her and will be looking to re-establish myself,” he said, his manner remarkably light considering the weight of his words.
Casting his mind back to the fateful winter’s night that changed the course of his life forever, Morapedi revealed,
“The complainant was my girlfriend.
“I picked her up from her place in Gerald Estates and we even bought meat on our way to my place in Block 7. She prepared supper and then we went to bed together and had sex,” he explained, his recollection of that night unsurprisingly vivid.
“The following morning I dropped her off at her place before proceeding to work,” he continued, adding that a month later he was called to Kutlwano Police Station and informed they had received a report accusing him of rape.
“I confronted my girlfriend after the interview and demanded to know why she’s accusing me of rape when she knew the sex was consensual,” he said, before pausing briefly to compose himself.
According to Morapedi, his lover confessed she was being forced to open a rape case against him by her boyfriend, who had discovered their affair.
“She simply lied and maintained that lie throughout the case. Due to her lies, I’ve lost my two cars to BURS and three years of my life to prison.”
Of his time behind bars, the acquitted man said quietly, “Life in prison is unbearable. For one to have a good meal they need to have soap to buy food. Otherwise, to eat you have to be the ‘girlfriend’ to the bandits who dish. I was lucky as my younger brother was always checking on me and bringing me soap to buy meals.”
Morapedi ruefully admits that his experience has left him traumatised to the point where he no longer trusts women and has no plans of dating in the near future.
“I fear women, I’m terrified of them; I know what a woman is capable of,” he said shyly, further adding that the mother of his child has long since moved out his house, taking all his belongings and their child with her.
Physically free he may be, psychologically, however, it seems Morapedi’s journey is just beginning.