Rights & Liberties
2 min

Two men cleared in lesbian murder case

BY NOREEN FAGAN – Great:
just when I thought South Africa might be
the one African country where human rights and justice could prevail I was proved
wrong.

On Wednesday, Sept 7, two men were acquitted of murdering lesbian activist Zoliswa Nkonyana. In 2006 Nkonyana was stabbed and stoned to
death near her home, allegedly because of her sexual orientation.

The case has been thwarted with delays. In fact, according to
the website Times Live, it was postponed
40 times because of problems with the accused.

"Of all the postponements, the vast majority were
because of the accused and their defence team,” said Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the
National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape.

Last month, lawyers for Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sabelo Yekiso,
Anele Gwele, Mbulelo Damba, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Londzi, Zolile Kobese, Themba
Dlephu and Mfundo Kulani asked the Khayelitsha Regional Court to drop all
charges on the grounds that the state’s evidence was “poor."

On Wednesday, only Gwele and Kobese were successful in having
the murder charges against them dropped.

The case has been highly criticized — since it’s been
hanging around the courts for so long — and South African police have been lambasted for
their shoddy work in gathering evidence.

An article in the African Activist states that 19-year-old Nkonyana and a friend had
been taunted by a bunch of girls and then chased by 20 youths before being
clubbed, kicked and beaten to death.

South Africa’s Lesbian and Gay Equality Project issued a
press release in 2010 addressing issues of incompetence around the trial.

In the past four years, in spite of the outrage, the ongoing public
protests, the demands and appeals made to the Criminal Justice System from
activists and members of the Khayelitsha community, the trial has never been given
the priority it deserves. The trial has been subject to ongoing delays due to
the unprofessional conduct of the defense attorneys who arrive late or not at
all on trial dates and are never held accountable.”

As well, the prisoners have escaped and had to be recaptured and given new lawyers, and
there has been no money to pay the lawyers of the accused.

It is a sad state of affairs, particularly when South
Africa has been under attack from human rights organizations for allowing
incidents of corrective rape to happen and go unpunished. And now Mogoeng Mogoeng, who believes he was chosen by God for the position, has been appointed chief justice of South Africa’s
highest court.

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