Justice for sex worker murder

2017-06-13 06:03
Members of Sweat and the Sisonke national movement outside court last week after Zwelethu Mthethwa was sentenced for a Woodstock murder.

Members of Sweat and the Sisonke national movement outside court last week after Zwelethu Mthethwa was sentenced for a Woodstock murder.

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Members of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) and Sisonke, a national movement led by sex workers, gathered at court on Wednesday to witness justice in a local murder.

Zwelethu Mthethwa was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for killing 23-year-old prostitute Nokuphila Kumalo in Woodstock in 2013.

Mthethwa had assaulted her and kicked her several times.

The sentencing in the Western Cape High Court by Judge Patricia Goliath last week followed Mthethwa’s guilty conviction in March.

Goliath said: “The killing of women will not be tolerated. The killing of sex workers in particular will not be ­tolerated.”

Representatives of the two organisations have welcomed the sentencing the court acknowledged that a human being had died that night, regardless of the profession she chose.

They say the murder was not only a reflection of how low society treats sex workers but also women in general. “We applaud the court seeing fit to exceed the minimum sentence of 15 years. We appreciate the message sent by Goliath,” says Kholiswa Tyiki, Sisonke’s spokesperson.

Ishtar Lakhani, advocacy and human rights defence manager of Sweat, says: “We are all aware of how the criminal justice system fails women on a daily basis. However, we are mindful that the conviction and sentencing of Mthethwa is a victory for Kumalo’s family and friends and we hope that this marks a shift in our courts taking the lives of sex workers more seriously.”

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