Nine plead not guilty to fatal beating of gay woman
Resource type: News
Cape Argus (South Africa) |
by FOUZIA VAN DER FORT All nine men accused of beating to death 19-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana two years ago pleaded not guilty in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court today. They also pleaded not guilty to at-tempting to murder two of Nkon-yana’s friends. Each shook his head as magistrate Radiyaah Wathen put the charges to them. Mbulelo Damba, Mfundo Kulani, Themba Dlepu, Zolile Kobese, Luyanda Londzi, Sicelo Mabe, Anele Gwele, Salebo Yekiso and Lubabalo Ntlabati are all alleged to be part of a gang of 20 that beat Nkonyana to death in a street in Khayelitsha’s Site B on February 3, 2006. The motive for the attack is believed to be that Nkonyana lived openly as a lesbian. A packed public gallery awaited the accused’s appearance today, including members of various gender-equality organisations, including the Triangle Project and the Treatment Action Campaign. Two groups travelled from Gauteng for the hearing. TAC Khayelitsha and the groups from Gauteng wore uniform sweaters and demonstrated with placards pyying tribute to Nkonyana. The accused’s plea was in line with their instructions to their lawyers. However Mabe, who had made a confession to the police, disputed its validity in court today. State prosecutor Alfred Isaacs asked Mabe’s advocate, Vernon Jantjies, whether he confirmed the confession his client had made. Jantjies said yes, but when the magistrate questioned Mabe, the accused alleged that investigating officer Sergeant Melvyn Geldenhuys had told him to confess. Wathen adjourned the matter for Jantjies to consult with Mabe. Moments later, Jantjies withdrew from the matter due to conflicting instructions and said he would assist Mabe to find another attorney. The magistrate warned Mabe that the trial would not be postponed indefinitely and that he could have foreseen the disagreement with his advocate. The matter was provisionally postponed to Thursday next week for Mabe to get a new lawyer and to confirm that all was in order so the trial could continue.