Cousins accused of Sinoxolo Mafevuka's rape, murder found not guilty

2017-12-19 11:05
Sinoxolo Mafevuka.

Sinoxolo Mafevuka. (Unknown)

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Cape Town - Judgment in the Sinoxolo Mafevuka case was handed down in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, December 18, 2017.

Judge Taswell Papier found both the accused Xolisa and Athabile Mafilika (Mafilika cousins) not guilty of rape and murder, GroundUp reported

Mafevuka was found raped and murdered on March 2, 2016 in SST, Town Two Community, Khayelitsha.

The two accused are the cousins of her boyfriend at the time of her death.

Mafevuka left her home after 19:00 on the evening of March 1, 2016. She was going to use the communal toilet about 200m away.

She left and never came back.

Her family assumed that she had visited or slept over at her boyfriend’s place. She was 19 when she died.

No connection between accused, crime scene

In his judgment, Papier noted that the State presented no direct evidence linking the accused to the crime scene.

The arrest, charge and detention of the accused was based on circumstantial evidence.

The State drew inferences of guilt and could not connect the accused to the rape and murder of Mafevuka.

Papier noted the testimony of a Tygerberg Hospital doctor that examined Mafevuka’s body and found that she had been raped and strangled. But the fingerprints and DNA of the accused were not found on Mafevuka’s body and clothes.

The judge also criticised the examining doctor as well as the SAPS investigating officer for not determining the time of death.

Papier further criticised the investigating officer who was removed 10 days after the crime.

This officer did not file his notes after interviewing the accused, forgot where he placed his notebook, contradicted himself in court and could not remember reading the accused their rights.

The judge also found that the State witnesses were not convincing and presented contradictory testimonies. Also, the girlfriend of one of the accused corroborated their alibi.

READ: Witnesses reshuffled in Sinoxolo murder case as lawyers argue over relevance

Addressing the Mafevuka family, Papier said: "The court is very sympathetic towards the Mafevuka family." But he found that the court must apply the law fairly and the State must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

No justice for Sinoxolo

Mafevuka’s case has been highlighted by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) as an example of the dangers facing people in informal settlements when they use outdoor toilets. The SJC is campaigning for better sanitation in informal settlements.

"It is clear from the reasons furnished that the detective services in the South African Police Service failed in their duty to secure credible evidence to secure a conviction and ultimately justice for Sinoxolo and her family," the SJC said in a written response to GroundUp.

The judgment left the Mafevuka family and their many supporters stunned, disappointed and emotional.

Mafevuka’s mother cried. Her screams reverberated across the courtroom.

"The first investigating officer assigned to the case failed in his duties in numerous ways.

"Despite being replaced as the investigating officer after pressure from the SJC, the public and unfavourable reporting in the media, the damage had been done. Credible evidence had been lost and poor records had been kept," the response read.

The organisation said it is almost entirely unlikely that justice for Sinoxolo and her family will be realised.

"In addition two young men, now found to be not guilty, have served 20 months behind bars. This is a tragic outcome that can only contribute to a further undermining of trust between the police service and members of the community."

Read more on:    sinoxolo mafevuka  |  cape town  |  crime  |  courts

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