Teen’s killer was ‘abusive, violent’

Crime & Courts


Pretoria - While murdered 18-year-old model Zanele Khumalo was his soulmate and the love of his life, the man who killed her and was the father of her unborn child was abusive, controlling and jealous.

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26/03/2014. Thato Kutumela who is accused of killing Zanele Khumalo appears at the Pretoria High Court.

Picture: Oupa MokoenaThato Kutumela who was found guilty of the murder and rape of his model girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo. File photo taken on the night of her matric dance. trial took place 2013

A social worker said this in testifying on Wednesday at the Pretoria High Court trial of Thato Kutumela, 29.

Kutumela has been convicted of rape, murder and theft and is to be sentenced on Friday.

Zanele was strangled on April 21, 2011 in her parents’ Garsfontein home after Kutumela had raped her.

She was five-months pregnant with his child.

He then stole her pyjamas, dressing gown and underwear and left her body, covered with a blanket, on her bed.

Kutumela returned to his workplace at Woolworths.

He has steadfastly denied he was the killer.

Acting Judge Johan Kruger found all fingers pointed to Kutumela as being the killer and that neighbours had testified they had seen him at the house on that day.

Busi and Themba Khumalo found their daughter on her bed when they returned from work that evening. At first they thought she was asleep and tried in vain to wake her up.

Social worker Heidi Buhrow took the stand on Wednesday to testify on behalf of the State before Kutumela is sentenced.

She said Kutumela showed no remorse for what he had done and she recommended that he be sent to jail for a period deemed fit by the court.

The couple had met in 2010.

Kutumela told Buhrow that Zanele “brought joy” to his life and they were definitely meant to be together.

However, a few months after her death, Kutumela had met another woman and they now had a child.

Kutumela said Zanele’s father had not approved of him because he did not have a stable income.

His version of the day she was killed was that on his way to work he brought her money to pay for a sonar scan.

He said they had sex and he then went to work.

His manager described Kutumela as being short-tempered at work, exhibiting “various moods”.

She told the social worker he had not, however, been seen as a violent person.

Zanele’s family and friends said the teenager had not wanted to continue with the relationship because Kutumela assaulted her and was controlling. They said Zanele “saw him as a psychopath” who at times abused her.

A female friend told the social worker she and Zanele were once at a swimming pool when Kutumela phoned. The friend, who has a deep voice, answered the phone and Kutumela thought she was a man. He arrived later, dragged Zanele out of the pool and assaulted her.

On another occasion, he grabbed her cellphone out of her hands to get the number of a previous boyfriend. He took her phone with him and returned it only the next day.

Zanele told her father that Kutumela had assaulted her and tried to strangle her.

Themba Khumalo confronted Kutumela and told him never to come to their home again. This was about two months before the murder.

Friends told the social worker how Kutumela controlled Zanele and that she had to get his permission before she could visit friends. She also became a Muslim, in line with his wishes.

Zanele’s parents described Zanele as a loving daughter with a bright future. She was taking a gap year and planned to follow a career as a flight attendant and model.

Buhrow held several meetings with Kutumela, who is in custody. She described him as throwing tantrums when someone disagreed with him and suffering from mood swings.

“He portrayed a perfect normal and pleasant picture to the outside world, but his mood suddenly changed.

“One minute he is nice and the next he is explosive.”

On Wednesday, while leaving the dock to go down to the cells, Kutumela gestured at a Pretoria News photographer with his middle finger.

The Khumalo couple and their two other daughters, Lindelwa and Confidence, said they just wished it was all over.

“We have been living with this for more than two years. We just want closure.

“I can totally sympathise with June Steenkamp, who has to sit through the evidence relating to her daughter Reeva’s killing.

“It is not nice for a mother to hear these details,” Busi Khumalo said, referring to the trial, on a murder charge, of Oscar Pistorius under way in the courtroom next door.

Pretoria News

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