Unlike a typical tale of love, a South African mother who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering her neighbour’s husband fell in love with a convict who studied law in the same prison and successfully fought for her freedom.
This is the story of Antoinette Chauke who was jailed in 2009 after a 4-year trial and lost her appeal in 2012 together with her neighbour who was arrested while visiting Chauke’s home, reports South African state broadcaster SABC.
“It was bad … It was a very painful thing to go through especially as a mother that is breastfeeding to see your child in the window and you can’t touch them,” she said.
Chauke, who was then a widow after her husband was killed only four months ago, was accused of aiding her neighbour to kill her husband who had died unknowingly to them at the time of the visit.
“They said that I told her to kill her husband because I was a widow … When this happened, it was the moment when I thought it was over with me. I had to tell my child that I am in bible school,” she told SABC’s Maageketla Mohlabe.
She spent seven years in the Johannesburg Maximum Security Prison before meeting Dennis Chauke, another prisoner serving 14 years for robbery. Antoinette and Denis Chauke got married in prison in 2014 while he was studying for a bachelor’s degree in Commercial Law to prove her innocence.
“I requested for transcripts and my intuition was confirmed that she was innocent … I proposed that we had to look for a lawyer,” he said.
Antoinette Chauke was acquitted in 2016 with her neighbour the same year her husband graduated while awaiting parole in 2018.
Chauke also obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Theological Ethics while in prison and she’s currently running a rehabilitation programme for youth offenders with her husband who was released on parole earlier this year.
Their story is one of many innocent people behind bars who have no support to prove their case. Antoinette Chauke could be suing for wrongful conviction, says SABC.
Watch the SABC report below.