Trial into the murder of SA lesbian finally begins

December 08, 2008

KHAYELITSHA — On Friday, almost three years after witnessing the brutal murder of her friend, Phindiswa Magxala finally gives testimony at the Khayelitsha Regional Court, Western Cape. Magxala testified that she and Zoliswa Nkoyani were attacked because they are lesbians, saying that "lesbians are not wanted in Khayelitsha."

She also testified that there were more than 10 men and 4 women involved and she confirmed that all 9 co-accused were present at the crime seen. She confirmed that they were both first assaulted and Nkonyane was later beaten with a brick then stabbed.

Family, relatives and friends who packed court C, listened in horror and one member broke down in trauma. Senior Prosecutor Mr Alfred Isaacs, questioned Magxala on her knowledge of the 9 accused, where she successfully recognised most of them my name and the others by face.

Magxala also gave testimony about the 4 women who had taunted her and Zoliswa Nkonyane and goaded the men to attack them.

Whilst this was happening inside the court, at least 200 activists, from various organisations, networks and individuals gathered outside of court to show their solidarity and to protest against violence against women, lesbians in particular and people living with HIV.

A full program comprising drama, poetry, speeches and toyi toying outside the court accompanied the proceedings.

As part of the proceedings, a site visit was conducted to visit key sites and plot the movements of all involved during that night in February 2006. This tour made by Magistrate Watten, Senior Public Prosecutor, all six defence attorneys and the 9 co-accused was followed by a crowd of curious onlookers.

The 9 co-accused face 3 charges each, 1 of murder and 2 of attempted murder and they all pleaded not guilty to all charges. They are appearing in court again on the 20th of March 2009. Although family, activists and community members welcomed the progress after nearly 3 years of delays they were concerned by the 3 month gap between this hearing and the next, as it further prolongs the conclusion of this matter. – Issued by Triangle Project

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