Grieving parents meet for mutual support

2014-03-28 20:21
Reeva Steenkamp's, June, mother seen in court. (Picture: AP)

Reeva Steenkamp's, June, mother seen in court. (Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - The parents of two women both killed by their boyfriends met in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday for mutual support.

"We obviously share the same pain... Theirs is fresh, it's about a year old, ours is almost three years old," said Themba Khumalo, father of murdered teenager Zanele, after meeting Reeva Steenkamp's mother June.

"Only time will heal."

Steenkamp was shot through the locked toilet door of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius's Pretoria home on 14 February last year. He said he had mistaken her for an intruder. However, the State contends the murder was premeditated.

A pregnant Zanele Khumalo was found dead at her parents' home in Garsfontein, Pretoria East, in April 2011.

Her naked body was discovered under a blanket on her bed when her parents arrived home from work.

They rushed her to hospital, but she had by then been dead for about six hours.

Thato Kutumela was sentenced in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday to 20 years in prison for her murder and rape.

Themba Khumalo, his wife Busi, and their two daughters met Steenkamp on Friday morning before Kutumela was sentenced and after Pistorius's case was postponed in a nearby court room.

The shook hands, prayed together, consoled each other and shared some "wise words", he said.

"We know exactly what they are going through... In more ways than one -the pain is one. They lost their daughter through a boyfriend, we lost our daughter through a boyfriend - it is an unbelievable pain and experience.

"Reeva's family is still hurting... We will remember them in our prayers," he said.

Khumalo said their criminal had been taken away and this made it easier for the family.

Sentencing

Judge Johan Kruger sentenced Kutumela to 20 years in prison for murder, 10 years in prison for rape, and six months in prison for theft, to run concurrently.

"I'm of the view that the sentences that I have instituted meet the proportionality test," he said.

As Kruger read out the sentencing there were people saying "yes" and "amen".

As Kutumela made his way down to the cells the people in court started clapping hands. A member of the ANC Woman's League said a prayer in court afterwards.

Khumalo's family, including her parents, sat in the front row of the public gallery wearing black t-shirts bearing her face with the words "Nothing was in vain" printed on the back.

In November last year, Kutumela was found guilty of murdering and raping the mother of his unborn child. He was also found guilty of stealing the teenager's nightclothes and underwear to hide the fact that he had raped her.

Kutumela did not testify, but claimed in his plea explanation they had consensual sex that morning and that she was alive and well when he left.

On Friday, Kruger said Kutumela was within his rights when he chose not to testify but said this made deciding on an appropriate sentence much more complicated.

Meanwhile, the case against Pistorius was postponed on Friday to 7 April because one of the assessors was ill.

He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement denied he had argued with his girlfriend shortly before the shooting.

He also faces two charges related to contraventions of the Firearms Control Act.

- SAPA

Read more on:    reeva steenkamp  |  oscar pistorius  |  pretoria  |  pistorius trial  |  crime
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