By Luvuyo Mjekula
A Khayelitsha ward councillor has vowed to use his office to confront Justice Minister Jeff Radebe about delays plaguing a lesbian-hate murder trial which suffered its 30th postponement on Thursday.
The four-year-long trial of nine men charged with the murder of Khayelitsha’s Zoliswa Nkonyana was postponed yesterday because of problems with legal representation of four of the nine who escaped from court cells last month.
The case was postponed to November 3 because the Legal Aid Board had not finalised its processing of lawyers for four of the accused, following the lawyers’ withdrawal after the four escaped last month. They were later rearrested.
Joining forces with about 100 gender activists protesting outside the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, ward 97 councillor Ryder Mkutswana called for speedy justice and support from other ward councillors.
Mkutswana said it was “painful” to see a case drag on for years. He said he would mobilise other councillors to be in court when the case resumes.
Nkonyana, 19, was murdered on February 4, 2006, allegedly because she was openly lesbian.
She was attacked after she left a shebeen where female patrons allegedly tried to force her to use a male toilet. When she refused and left to use a toilet elsewhere, a group of men followed and stabbed her to death.
Nine Khayelitsha men aged between 19 and 24 were charged with her murder. They have pleaded not guilty to murder and two counts of attempted murder for attacks on Nkonyana’s friend who was with her, as well as a passer-by.
Gender activists had protested outside the Khayelitsha court in the four years the case had been delayed.
At one stage, the Triangle Project unsuccessfully led an application for the case to be transferred to the Western Cape High Court.
Yesterday, gender activists’were outnumbered in court by relatives, friends and girlfriends of the nine men.
“We did not have an impact in court. We have agreed to mobilise more people for the next court appearance,” said TAC leader Lumkile Fizile. - Cape Times