Sentencing delayed in pregnant teen murder trial

2014-01-27 22:26
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Pretoria - The trial of a 26-year-old man convicted of murdering pregnant teenager Zanele Khumalo was postponed by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday.

Judge Johan Kruger postponed sentencing proceedings until 6 March.

The court heard that a report by a psychologist consulted by Thato Kutumela's lawyers would be ready only by the end of February.

Prosecutor George Baloyi said a social worker who drew up a pre-sentencing report also wanted to study the psychologist's report before giving evidence.

Kutumela was found guilty of murdering and raping the mother of his unborn child in November.

She was found dead at her parents' home in Garsfontein, Pretoria east, in April 2011.

He was also found guilty of stealing the teenager's nightclothes and underwear to hide the fact that he had raped her.

He 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.

This was after he initially claimed, at the magistrate's court, that he had been at work all day.

Khumalo's 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 already been dead for about six hours.

A pathologist testified that the 18-year-old girl's heart had stopped because of intense pressure to her neck. She was five months pregnant at the time of her death.

Turbulent relationship

In his judgment, Kruger said the couple had a turbulent relationship which included Khumalo suffering a wound on the back of her head and Khumalo's father forbidding Kutumela from visiting their house after he assaulted Khumalo and took her cellphone.

They had exchanged several long phone calls in the early hours of the morning before her death, and she thereafter refused to answer three further calls from Kutumela.

He went to her house to complete "unfinished business" that morning and slipped in when she refused to open the gate for him.

Kruger found that no person other than Kutumela had been at Khumalo's house that day, and that the only reasonable inference was that he had murdered and strangled her, taking her nightclothes with him, which must have shown signs that he had raped her.

Kutumela's lawyers said he would apply for leave to appeal against his conviction.

- SAPA
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