May 20, 2005

IFP Justice spokesperson, Mr Koos van der Merwe commented on the acquittal of Mr Albert Mncwango today in the High Court of Appeals in Pietermaritzburg.

Mr van der Merwe said:

"The truth has finally surfaced. Mr Mncwango's ordeal of almost five years is over; he can now proudly take his seat in parliament and resume his important duties in the IFP."

"Two judges of the High Court today held that the magistrate was wrong to convict Mr Mncwango. Their judgment was not based on any technical issue but on the fact that the evidence of the complainant was unreliable."

"The IFP was convinced from the beginning that the rape charge was a false and malicious one and that Mr Mncwango was innocent. Mr Mncwango's lawyers pointed out that the magistrate had seriously misdirected herself in several respects. She had convicted Mr Mncwango on the evidence of only one witness whose evidence was not only unreliable but directly contradicted by other witnesses. One witness declared under oath that the complainant had asked her to lie about the alleged rape incident. Her evidence was not challenged and therefore stands."

"The magistrate however ignored these extremely serious facts and accepted the false evidence of the lying complainant."

"The fact that the magistrate had refused Mr Mncwango the right to appeal is further proof of her judicial incompetency. In addition she was so certain she was right, that she even refused Mr Mncwango bail and he had to spend time in jail awaiting the outcome of an urgent petition to the Judge President, which was granted."

"Today two High Court judges, one a woman, rejected the magistrate's conviction of Mr Mncwango and set aside the ten year sentence of imprisonment. Mr Mncwango is therefore a free man."

"Mr Mncwango's lawyers are now studying the High Court judgment with a view to reporting the magistrate to the Magistrate's Commission to investigate whether she is a fit and proper person to act as a magistrate."

"This judgment by the High Court also serves as a reminder to the media and others not to condemn a person before he or she has not fully exhausted all legal options."


For further information contact: Mr Koos van der Merwe 082 444 4944