‘Silent witness’ helps to convict artist of murder
Until this week, Mthethwa, 56, had been an internationally renowned painter and photographer. His work had been exhibited around South Africa, in New York, Spain and London.
On Thursday he was convicted in the Western Cape High Court of the murder of Nokuphila Kumalo, who he kicked and punched to death in Ravenscraig Road in Woodstock nearly four years ago.
Kumalo, a 23-year-old mother of one, died of a heart attack after suffering a liver injury during the brutal assault. Her body lay in the road for nearly an hour after the attack until it was discovered by security guards stationed at a nearby building.
Mthethwa did not give evidence at his trial, but the court heard from his psychiatrist that he claimed to have blacked out after a night of drinking and could not recall the events of the night of April 13, 2013.
In her judgment on Thursday, Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath said Mthethwa’s silence had given credibility to the case against him.
CCTV footage, which the court found to be admissible, showed Mthethwa’s black Porsche Carrera 911 - the only one of its kind in Cape Town - stopping in Ravenscraig Road at 2.40am and the artist getting out and crossing the road to where Kumalo, a sex worker, was standing.
The footage showed Mthethwa kicking and punching Kumalo, a small woman, who weighed just 46kg. Judge Goliath said Kumalo would not have been able to defend herself.
The footage was a “silent witness” which gave the court satisfactory insight into the murder scene, said Judge Goliath, adding that evidence from a car-tracking company placed Mthethwa’s car at the scene at the time of the attack.
The judge was also satisfied with evidence that the security guards who reported seeing the car and recording part of its registration plate led police to identify it as Mthethwa’s.
His bail was withdrawn and he will remain in custody until he is sentenced on March 29.