‘I didn’t know she was a sex worker’
Cape Town - To the world she was just another murdered “sex worker”. But to her mother, Nokuphila Moudy Khumalo would always be remembered as a budding high school athlete, with dreams of becoming a doctor.
As an adult her life had become a bit of a mystery to Eva Oumakie Khumalo – her daughter’s visits became infrequent and she was vague about what she did for a living.
It was only after her death earlier this year that her mother discovered she was suspected of being a sex worker. She was beaten to death in Ravenscraig Road in Woodstock at 2.30am in April.
Zwelethu Mthethwa, an internationally acclaimed artist, was arrested and charged with her murder. He was arrested after CCTV footage captured a man climbing out of a Porsche and approaching her. The man hit Khumalo repeatedly and, when she fell to the ground, he kicked her. She died on the scene.
Mthethwa’s trial was due to continue in the Cape Town Regional Court on Thursday.
On April 15 – two days after her daughter’s murder – police went to Eva Oumakie Khumalo’s home in Gugulethu. An officer showed her a picture of a battered woman. It was the body of Nokuphila, her daughter.
“I don’t know how it started or ended,” Eva Khumalo said.
She last saw her daughter a year earlier when she came home sick.
She told her mom she lived with a friend near Woodstock, and worked in a restaurant. She would visit her mother sometimes but would also go for long stretches without any contact. Police believe Nokuphila was a sex worker – news that shocked her mother. “I didn’t know,” she said.
The police identified Nokuphila by her fingerprints – she had a criminal record.
Eva was taken to the Salt River mortuary to identify her. She saw her in black pants and a white T-shirt stained with blood. She wore a ring and bangles. “She didn’t deserve to die like that.” She did not have money to transport her daughter’s body back to their home in Kimberley, so it took seven weeks before Nokuphila was buried. She rode with her daughter’s body back to the place of her birth.
Born in Kimberley on February 11, 1991, Nokuphila or “Ntombie”, as she was nicknamed, grew up in the home of her aunt, Ruth Mias, while Eva Khumalo worked in Cape Town. When she was eight, Nokuphila moved to Gugulethu.
She went to Intshinga Primary and Bantu Mketsu, who taught her isiXhosa, natural sciences and life orientation, described her as well behaved. She played netball and excelled as a sprinter. She also sang in the choir and was a member of the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Girl Guides.
When she was 14, Nokuphila moved in with relatives Nomhle Ngqase and Siyabulele Ngqase. Ngqase said the two girls often talked about their futures.
“Ntombie wanted to be a doctor,” she said.
But after completing Grade 10, Nokuphila dropped out. Ngqase said Nokuphila went out with friends and often did not return until the next day.
According to police, Nokuphila had been living on the streets and was involved in drugs and sex work.
Eva Khumalo wants to know why her daughter was killed. She will go to court today to look at the man accused of her murder. Afterwards, she will go to Ravenscraig Road to lay flowers at the spot where her daughter died.
Cadet News Agency