Driftsand relieved no bail for murder accused

2016-12-21 21:55
Noluvo Swelindawo (Facebook)

Noluvo Swelindawo (Facebook)

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Cape Town - More than 1 300 Driftsands residents, shocked at the murder of 22-year-old Noluvuyo Swelindawo there at the beginning of December, signed a petition to try and ensure the suspect accused of killing her is not released from custody.

But on Wednesday the accused, Signice Mdani, abandoned his bail application in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court, so the petition was never presented as evidence.

Swelindawo had identified as a lesbian and her killing sparked fears she was targeted because of her sexuality.

Speaking after Mdani's court appearance, the Triangle Project's Sharon Cox said youth activists worked very hard at holding meetings, marches and discussions in Driftsands so that people would understand how they possibly stigmatised LGBTI people and the youth.

They have made such good progress in forming and maintaining their group and working with the community that they now feel they have the community's support, said Cox.

But then Swelindawo was abducted on December 3 and found murdered on December 4. Her body was left on a footbridge leading to Driftsands, which is surrounded by a nature reserve.

More than 1 300 signatures were collected ahead of the appearance of Mdani's appearance, but because he abandoned his bail application, it was not used in court.

Mdani was remanded in custody, to the relief of most of those present in court, and the case would be heard again on 15 February.

Recovering from assault

Cox said it would have been nice to show Magistrate Vincent Ketye how much effort the community had gone to to show that they did not want Mdani out on bail.

All the people in the packed court, aside from three members of Mdani's family, had made the trip from Driftsands to show that they care about the case.

''They are not all lesbian or gay, they just want to send a strong message from the community,'' said Cox.

Zuko Mnukwa, chairperson of Driftsands Youth in Action, said he and other residents were shocked when Mdani was arrested.

''We were shocked to find that we live with him,'' he said.

''But it is a relief that there was no bail.''

It was initially thought that Swelindawo may have fallen victim to homophobes, but a possible motive for her murder will likely only emerge during a trial.

More involved

She was already recovering from an assault the day before she was abducted.

Investigations into her murder are continuing and the post mortem results are still outstanding, but Cox said the feeling was that there must have been more people involved in her killing.

It was hoped that if so, they would also be arrested.

Cox said the LGBTI community in Driftsands was especially shocked at Swelindawo's murder because out of 19 "safe zones" in the province, the area had one of the most successful.

Fellow activist Lebohang Lehana said their ''safe zone'' work zones, also known as ''solidarity circles'', for LGBTI people, included holding talks on the dangers of recreational drugs, and teaching the community about how they may stygmatise people.

For more information on creating an LGBTI ''safe zone'' click here.

Read more on:    noluvuyo swelindawo  |  cape town  |  crime

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