Confession in lesbian murder trial contested as wrongfully obtained

2009-09-29 13:30

THE STATE’S case against nine men accused of murdering 19-year-old

Zoliswa Nkonyana in 2006 for being a lesbian appeared to take a knock in the

Khayelitsha Regional Court yesterday as one of the two witnesses could not

identify the accused.

Additionally, a confession by accused Sicelo Mabe (21) put before

the court in August last year is being contested by the accused’s new defence

attorney, Afzal Vallie, as having being obtained under duress.

Presiding magistrate Raadiyah Wathen postponed the case to today to

hear arguments that Mabe was tortured by police. Mabe dismissed his former

defence advocate, Vernon Jantjies, last year after he submitted the confession

to the court on August 27.

All nine men have pleaded not guilty to the state’s allegation that

they stabbed Nkonyana and beat her to death with golf clubs, sticks and bricks

on the night of February 4 2006, because she was living openly as a lesbian in

Khayelitsha.

Giving evidence before a packed courtroom one of two witnesses

brought by the state, Zolani Phato, said he “was too drunk to notice” who had

assaulted Nkonyana on the night in question.

Contrary to allegations in the charge sheet that Phato had

intervened to try prevent the assault on Nkonyana, whereupon the accused turned

on him, Phato denied that he had got involved and said he had seen the assault

but had continued walking. However, he said further on he was accosted by a

different group of people who attacked him, stabbing him five times.

He said he could not say whether the nine accused in court were the

ones who had attacked Nkonyana or the ones who had attacked him.

“I had too much to drink on the night,” he said.

First state witness Phindiswa Mangxala (20) was a friend of

Nkonyana’s and had been with her on the night she was attacked was only able to

identify two of the accused.

Mangxala said on the night of the attack she and Nkonyana had been

drinking in a shebeen in Khayelitsha’s E-Section when they were taunted by a

group of girls who said lesbians deserved to be raped and had no place living in

the township.

She said the girls told them to leave the shebeen or they would

call men to rape them. She said they went outside for a smoke when accused

Lubabalo Ntlabathi punched her in the chest, whereupon she and Nkonyana fled,

splitting up as they did so.

From a hiding place in among the houses she saw a group of men

stabbing Nkonyana and beating her with sticks, golf clubs and bricks but after a

short while one of the accused saw her and she ran.

Although she could not positively identify all nine accused, she

fingered Ntlabathi and Mabe.

She said that night she sought refuge with a friend who advised her

not to go to the police as the accused might hunt her down and kill her if she

did.

The other accused are: Mbulelo Damba (21); Mfundo Kulani (19);

Themba Dlephu (21); Zolile Kobese (21); Anele Gwele (24); Sabelo Yekiso (21) and

Luyanda Londzi (21).
 – West Cape News


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