The Monitor :: 'To Hell And Back' - Ex-Deathrow Inmate
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Last Updated
Wednesday 21 February 2018, 17:14 pm.
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'To Hell And Back' - Ex-Deathrow Inmate

In most cases when murder convicts sentenced to death reach the Court of Appeal (CoA), the most they can get is a lengthy prison sentence. It was however a different story for Zoroga man, Tsholofelo Maselwa, as he got off scot-free a fortnight ago.
By Innocent Selatlhwa Mon 29 Jan 2018, 09:35 am (GMT +2)
The Monitor :: 'To Hell And Back' - Ex-Deathrow Inmate








Maselwa was convicted of murdering 70-year-old Chifana Mbali in Zwenshambe in 2009. Ever since, he was in and out of jail with his last incarceration commencing in 2014.

Justice Terrence Rannowane convicted him last year but he was set free by a panel of three CoA judges in Lord Arthur Hamilton, Jacobus Brand and Abednigo Tafa.

The Monitor visited the soft-spoken Maselwa at his mother’s humble abode in Zoroga. Upon arrival, The Monitor found Maselwa seated under a shade poring over a Bible. He called his mother and two uncles to be part of the interview.

“It was some time in April that the police came to arrest me in Sechele accusing me of murdering Mbali. I was clueless about the matter. They took me and tortured me trying to force me to confess to the crime I did not commit,” he said.

Maselwa said he always knew he would be set free as there was no evidence linking him to the crime. None of the witnesses linked him to the crime save for one police officer who claimed that they had confiscated Maselwa’s blood stained pants. “It was a set-up gone bad.

The police wanted to incriminate me but they could not prove it. They had even left out the person I was with during my arrest as a witness,” he said.

Maselwa said he thought he was dreaming when Rannowane found him guilty and eventually sentenced him to death. “I was devastated, I could not believe it and immediately decided that I would appeal,” he said.

Maselwa said his worst experience was when he was sent to death row. “It felt like I was at my own funeral. I found one inmate there and when I left there were eight of us. It felt like we were in a grave already.

The cell is way too small and the only time one would go out is when going to the hospital or court. The guys would always be sleeping; sometimes none of us would eat. It was so scary,” he said.

Maselwa said it got worse after one of them lost his appeal. He

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wondered what he did to deserve such a cruel treatment, which could only be compared to hell.

He said he, however, remained hopeful as he knew he was not guilty.

Unlike many cases where judgements would be delivered at a later date, the three judges ruled that Maselwa be set free on the same day of the hearing as there was nothing linking him with the murder.

Although he discovered his home having been destroyed by Cyclone Dineo, Maselwa said he was happy that justice was finally done and found his mother and other family members in good health. Maselwa said he lost his girlfriend and two children in the process.

“The mother of my two children is from Zwenshambe and everybody in the village was convinced that I committed the crime. We had one child when I was arrested in 2009. She was also eight months pregnant with our second born and I have never seen them since,” he said.

Maselwa said he would after settling contact authorities in Zwenshambe so they could help him arrange to go see his children. His mother, Dikhabiso Maselwa could not hold back tears of joy at the unexpected return of her son. “I never believed my son could have killed anyone.

He has always been obedient and used his hands to make money. I have lost a lot of weight since the case began but I am so happy he is finally back home to provide for me,” she said.

Maselwa’s uncle Bojang Maselwa who raised him said they were delighted he was back. “I helped his mother raise him and was devastated to hear of the case. It was really tough for everyone, but we remained hopeful as he made us believe that he did not do it. Now that he is back, I want his best friend to be the Bible.

He should stay here with us and avoid places and people that could get him into trouble,” he said. He said his nephew was a humble hard worker who made a living out of erecting fences for homes and ploughing fields.

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