Vagrant charged for Kavitha murder

2020-02-04 14:15
Simphiwe Mweli was arrested for the murder of Kavitha Nerputh. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

Simphiwe Mweli was arrested for the murder of Kavitha Nerputh. PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

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A Police breakthrough in the Kavitha Nerputh murder led to a city vagrant being charged with her killing.

Simphiwe Mweli (37) made a brief appearance at the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s court on Monday.

Nerputh’s body was found in her Audi Q7 in Alexandra Park on January 20. She had been strangled with a cellphone cable.

Mweli stood ashen faced when brought from the court’s holding cells and did not try to cover his face when members of the media began taking photographs of him.

Not a single member of Nerputh’s family was present at court.

Mweli made an application for a legal aid attorney.

State prosecutor Rene Padayachee said the state at this stage plans to oppose Mweli’s bail on the basis that witness’s safety may be at risk, the seriousness of the offence and that an alternate address that Mweli can stay at during the proceedings needs to be verified.

Speaking in Zulu, Mweli told the court he has no previous convictions or pending cases against him.

The case was adjourned to later this month for a formal bail application.

Police sources said there is another suspect in the matter, but The Witness was unable to get official confirmation on this on Monday.

Mweli was arrested on Friday by police acting on information that indicated he was the last person seen with Nerputh. He was arrested at a vacant house in town, sources said.

Nerputh was the owner of Foreverwell Tea, a herbal weight-loss tea company in Camps Drift.

She hit headlines last year for taking out a harassment order against a former friend of hers for cyber bullying. She was known for turning to the courts and police to lay harassment complaints.

The Witness reported that Nerputh was extremely uneasy in the days leading up to her death, and on the morning of the day she died had opened a police case against two people. Nerputh’s family were alerted that there was an arrest for her murder only when asked for comment by The Witness. They declined to comment. She is survived by her three children, Junior (22), Aryana (19) and Zia (7).

Malusi Ndlovu, who runs an NPO, You can Change, which in 2017 tried to recruit Mweli to one of its projects to curb his drug habits, was shocked to hear the news. Ndlovu is himself a reformed drug addict. “He was invited to our project but he disappeared. He has been living on the streets for about 10 years,” Ndlovu said on Monday.

Mweli was quoted in Maritzburg Fever at the time saying he hoped old abandoned buildings in the city could be renovated to house vagrants. He was living on the street at the time.

The news of a breakthrough in the matter was greeted with relief by members of The Witness’ Facebook page, who commended police for swift action. Nerputh’s death sent shockwaves through Pietermaritzburg, and reignited discussions around violence against women and cyberstalking.

• Additional reporting by Niyanta Maharaj“

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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