A North Gauteng High Court judge in Pretoria has come to the aid of a Limpopo man who was sent home six and a half years ago when he reported to start serving his three-year prison sentence for culpable homicide because the prison “did not have his papers”.
Acting Judge Brenda Neukircher granted an order interdicting the authorities from arresting and handing over Edwin Rapholo to start serving his sentence, pending the outcome of a new appeal against his conviction and sentence.
Rapholo was convicted in 2008 of culpable homicide and on appeal sentenced in 2010, to three years’ effective imprisonment.
When he tried to hand himself over to Atteridgeville men’s prison within the prescribed 48 hours, warders told him they did not have his records and sent him home saying officials would collect him once they had received his records from the court.
Nothing happened until the clerk of the magistrate’s court in August this year, out of the blue, informed him he had to report to prison to start serving his sentence.
But during the six years, Rapholo had got married and become the father of two children with a third on the way. He also got a job with a cellphone company. He said his wife and children would be homeless if he was sent to prison.
Judge Neukircher said it was the most basic and fundamental principle of law that all orders of court had to be complied with properly until they were set aside.