Internationally acclaimed artist Zwelethu Mthethwa at the Cape Town High Court where is is on trial for the murder of 23-year-old sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo. File picture: Adrian de Kock
Internationally acclaimed artist Zwelethu Mthethwa at the Cape Town High Court where is is on trial for the murder of 23-year-old sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo. File picture: Adrian de Kock

Gait expert testifies in artist’s murder trial

By Catherine Rice Time of article published May 4, 2016

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Cape Town – A gait expert has testified in the case against internationally renowned artist Zwelethu Mthethwa who is standing trial for the murder of a sex worker in Woodstock in April 2013.

On Wednesday, Dr Nicholas Tam, from the University of Cape Town’s department of human biology, told the Western Cape High Court that he compared video footage of the perpetrator at the crime scene with security footage of the accused.

CCTV footage captured the April 14, 2013 incident and, after a trial within a trial was held last year, that evidence was ruled admissable.

While the footage does not show the perpetrator’s face, it shows a man getting out of a car, approaching 23-year-old Nokuphila Kumalo, kicking and beating her to death, and then returning to the car and driving off.

Footage of the accused taken from security cameras at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, as well as footage captured in Wale Street was used in the comparison.

Tam told the court that he used a sliding scale of A to F in the comparison – A would be considered identification, B would be strongly identified while C would be an indication of similarities. At the other end of the scale, F would be the conclusion that the gait, posture and height were completely dissimilar.

He testified that in his view the comparison fell into category C – there were similarities in height of the perpetrator and the accused, both were above average height, both had forward head postures, and both walked with their left arms close to their torsos. However, it could not be determined as conclusive that the perpetrator and accused were one and the same man.

In a video taken from the centre of Cape Town, where the accused is seen walking to his car, and the footage from the crime scene where the perpetrator is returning to his car, Tam said both were walking at the exact same speed.

Defence attorney William Booth requested documents that Tam referred to during his evidence in chief, and cross examination is expected to proceed on Monday, May 9.

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