The family is delighted with the release of the convict after 23 years

A Pagad member who spent the last 23 years in prison for a double murder is now a free man and has maintained his innocence.

In 2004, Mogamat Phadiel Orrie, 52, was sentenced to life in prison in mang for the murder of a couple who were under witness protection at the time.

Orrie was incarcerated at Worcester Prison and released on parole from the Mitchell’s Plain Correctional Probation Office on Tuesday afternoon.

Gathered: Padiel Orrie and his wife. Image: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

His parole was endorsed by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, following the recommendation of the National Council for Correctional Services (NCCS).

The victims’ families had been part of the parole process and have since been informed of their release.

Phadiel was convicted of the murders of Yusuf and Fahiema Enous, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in a safe house in Gouda on December 26, 2000.

Her four-month-old baby was also found in the house, whose skull was fractured.

The couple were supposed to testify against Haroon Orrie, Phadiel’s brother, who had been arrested along with several other people in connection with an attempted bomb attack at the Keg and Swan pub in Durbanville.

I’m glad: Padiel and Haroon, far right, greet a relative. Image: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Yusuf and Fahiema were initially arrested for their involvement in the attack, but the charges were dropped when they agreed to become state witnesses.

During the trial, which began in 2003 and lasted 44 days, it was revealed that DNA evidence connected Phadiel to the crime scene after his blood was found on a curtain in the house.

His blood was also found on the back of Samier Orrie, his brother and co-accused. In his defense, Phadiel claimed that he had injured himself earlier that day while using the vehicle.

He said the blood must have been transferred to his friend, Adiel Ameerodien, who in turn innocently transferred it to the curtain when he went to Gouda to visit the Enous couple that same day.

Hug: Abdus-Salaam Ebrahim of Orrie and Pagad. Image: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Ameerodien testified that he had found blood on her hand but could not find any wounds. He told the court he had closed a window in the safe house.

However, Judge Lee Bozalek said Phadiel’s account of the blood could not be corroborated and also rejected his alibi that he had organized a braai on the night of the murders.

Padiel was later found guilty of murder, burglary, violating the ends of justice and illegal possession of firearms.

Samier was acquitted of all charges.

On Tuesday, family and friends welcomed Padiel with warm hugs and handshakes as he took his first steps toward freedom.

Among those present was the pagan leader Abdus-Salaam Ebrahim.

Padiel will be subject to supervision by the Community Corrections office of the Department of Correctional Services in accordance with the conditions of parole.

Pagad national coordinator Haroon Orrie spoke on behalf of the family and said they were grateful to witness Phadiel’s release in today’s democracy.

He said: “After 23 years of incarceration, we, as Phadiel Orrie’s family, want to thank the Creator and the wider community for their continued support for him and his family.

He asked people to accept his brother back into society and recognize the “sacrifice he has made in serving this society so that our children can live in a better society.”

Haroon insisted on his brother’s innocence and that he had unjustly served half a life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

He said: “We maintain that the court (could) have found him guilty based on evidence, but we believe it was an unfair trial and that he was wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years.”

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