HE was convicted of raping his 10-year-old niece in 2011, and served 10 years of the 20-year sentence.

But according to July Mtshali, he never committed the crime.

He’s now out on parole, but his life is a living hell as people see him as a convicted rapist.

The madala (60) from Ermelo, Mpumalanga, now wants to clear his name.

He told Daily Sun that he was out on parole despite the victim confessing during the victim offender dialogue last year that he never raped her.

July, who was released last month, said he was robbed of his life by jealous family members.

“Life in prison was not easy. You get up with the hope they’d say pack up and go, but there’s nowhere you can go. I suffered and lost everything. I experienced all forms of abuse. It was just a nightmare.”

He said that he tried to appeal his sentence, but couldn’t proceed because of financial strain.

He alleged that in 2016, his niece, now 22, confessed to his wife that she was used by family members who wanted to benefit from her social grant.

July said that he tried to bring the matter forward, but no one paid attention.

July Mtshali, who was convicted of rape, said he wants his life back. Photo by Bulelwa Ginindza

“I have always maintained my innocence. I’m on chronic medication because of this situation.

“My wife suffered a stroke. My children also suffered while I was in jail. I had to move to another area because of this. I’m now old and can’t find a job.”

His wife Thulisile Mdaka (54) said: “No one deserves to experience what happened to my husband.

“It’s painful, but we are trying to pick up the pieces.”

When Daily Sun contacted the niece, she confirmed that she was forced to say she was raped. She said it never happened and she regrets her actions.

“I regret what I did, hence I decided to tell the truth during the victim offender dialogue session.

“I wish to go back to my uncle and ask for proper forgiveness.”

Her parents died in 2009 and July took her in. She said she didn’t know that she was being used.

“This was a family battle and I only realised later in life. My other uncle wanted to benefit from my social grant ,” she said, adding that she was willing to write an affidavit to explain what happened.

“I wish my uncle’s name can be cleared so he can live a normal again.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Mtshali, who is accused of using the child to frame July, said: “She must tell the truth. She’s the one who told us that she was raped by our brother.”

Tony Mathe of Marweshe Attorneys said the police did not do proper investigations, which would have revealed that the child was pressured into giving a false statement.

He said they would send a letter to the Department of Correctional Services to demand that July’s name be cleared. Then they’d open a case against those who instructed the child to do what she did.

“Those involved in this crime must face the full might of the law.”

Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West Correctional Services regional communication co-ordinator, Matshidiso Mapole, said the dialogue was conducted between the parties, but the department couldn’t comment as the session was confidential.

“It’s up to the victim to divulge the allegations to the relevant authorities.”