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Pretoria - Two grieving mothers will on Friday come face to face with the killers of their model daughters in city adjacent courtrooms.
One will possibly hear first hand from the boyfriend what happened the night her child died, while the other will witness her daughter’s lover being sentenced.
As June Steenkamp takes her place in Court GD at the High Court in Pretoria to possibly hear Oscar Pistorius explaining how it came about that he shot Reeva Steenkamp, next door Busi Khumalo will hopefully get the closure she’s been waiting for when her daughter Zanele’s murderer, Thato Kutumela is sentenced.
The two mothers have reached out to one another, saying each understands the other’s pain.
They have also expressed their wish to meet each other, which will hopefully happen on Friday.
ANC Women’s League Gauteng spokeswoman Jacqui Mofokeng has been trying to facilitate the meeting.
Mofokeng will on Friday be at the side of each mother – first seeing Khumalo through the sentencing procedure, after which she will join Steenkamp at the murder trial of the “Blade Runner”.
“June could not be here today, as she is preparing for Pistorius possibly taking the stand tomorrow (on Friday). I spoke to her and both she and Mrs Khumalo are eager to meet each other. I will make sure this happens,” Mofokeng said on Thursday.
Steenkamp had been consulting a psychologist on an ongoing basis since after her daughter’s death, Mofokeng said. This is a very difficult time for her and she mentally prepared herself for on Friday’s proceedings, she added. “We, the ANCWL, will continue to support her and the Khumalos.”
The State on Thursday called for Kutumela to be sentenced to a life term in prison. Zanele’s father, Themba Khumalo, shared this sentiment. “The monster who killed my child should be removed permanently from society. He is a threat to women,” he told the Pretoria News.
Khumalo said he was ready for Friday’s proceedings as they would hopefully bring some closure to his family, but he was not ready to forgive Zanele’s murderer. “The fact that he showed no remorse leaves us with no option but not to forgive him. He must confess and say he is sorry, before we can forgive.”
Thursday’s proceedings became too much for Zanele’s mother, who rushed out of court in tears during the legal arguments. “I just cannot face it any longer,” she later said.
Defence advocate Anneke van Wyk, who asked the court to have mercy on Kutumela, told Acting Judge Johan Kruger that while she realised Zanele had lost her life, this was not the worst kind of murder.
“I do not want to degrade it, but there are other cases where people have suffered terribly. She died within 30 to 35 seconds (after being manually strangled to death).”
Zanele’s father said afterwards he found this to be insensitive. “Murder is murder. There can never be a better or worse murder. Whether someone is shot or stabbed, the pain is the same. How can you say my daughter died comfortably?”
He and his wife discovered Zanele’s naked body in her bed when they arrived home on the afternoon of April 21, 2011.
She had been strangled by Kutumela, who appeared to have known exactly what he was doing. Only after careful examination did the pathologist who performed the post mortem detect two marks on the 18-year-old’s neck.
She was strangled by Kutumela after he had raped her. He closed her eyes, covered her in a blanket and then took her pyjamas and pair of panties with him.
Kutumela returned to work as if nothing had happened. At first, he denied he had been at the home of Zanele’s parents in Garsfontein that day, but later admitted to it as his DNA, witnesses and his cellphone records placed him on the scene.
He was adamant that they had consensual sex after he had brought her money to have a sonar as she was five months pregnant with his child. Kutumela said when he left, she was alive and well.
A dark picture of a jealous, possessive and abusive Kutumela was painted to court. A social worker said he was a typical Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality. He was nice one minute and explosive the other.
His psychologist who interviewed him and submitted a report to the court, said the picture painted of him, was “not the person she had interviewed”.
Kutumela, at the start of the trial posed for pictures outside court, but this week he made his feelings clear when he showed a photographer his middle finger.