Anger at hate crime murder trial posponement

Activists express extreme anger at postponement in the Zoliswa Nkonyana hate crime murder trial

July 06, 2009

The 070707 Campaign to end hate are appalled that the case of the nine men accused of murdering Zoliswa Nkonyana has once again been postponed this time until 28 September to 2 October 2009. Nkonyana was just 19 when she was brutally murdered in February 2006 during a homophobic attack on her and a friend as they walked home one evening. While the accused were arrested shortly after the event the case has barely moved forward since that time, there have been a total of 20 postponements of which 15 have been due to problems with defence counsel for the accused.

The severity of this crime and the clear motivation of homophobic hate that precipitated it indicates that this should be a priority case. However there seems to be no acknowledgment of this from the court, trial dates are set months apart, seemingly scheduled around every other commitment the defence attorneys have. The main state witness (herself a victim in the crime) began giving her evidence in December 2008 if indeed the case resumes on 28 September her evidence will have taken 9 months to complete, all of it spent under oath. Zoliswa's mother too returns to the Khayelitsha Magistrates court time after time to witness nothing but the arrogance of the accused as they laugh and wave to their girlfriends in the gallery.

We fully acknowledge the accused's right to legal representation but all rights are tempered by the need for reasonableness and all sense of reasonableness seems to have disappeared in this case. The presiding Magistrate has shown that she is either unable or unwilling to put a stop to the madness and take a firm grasp on the case. It is clear that while the rights of the accused with regard to their legal representation will be entertained endlessly, the rights of Zoliswa's family to closure, the rights of the other victims to justice and rights of the state witness to be able to move on with her life are all of little or no importance to the court.

It has become increasingly clear that the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court is incapable of taking this case forward and as such we are demanding that the matter be transferred to the High Court immediately. We will be writing letters to all the relevant authorities to this effect and taking all necessary actions to ensure our demands are met. Justice for Zoliswa is long overdue and we can no longer sit by and watch injustice prevail in a court of law.

For more information contact:
Emily Craven - JWG - 011 403 5566
Marlow Valentine - Triangle Project - 021 448 3812
Issued by JWG

  • The 070707 Act to End Hate Campaign is led by the Joint Working Group whose members are drawn from both within the JWG and across civil society. Its goal is the eradication of hate crimes affecting the LGBTI community.

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