The young woman was found dead in the bathtub of her Florida, Gauteng, home in 2013. For the past three years, the State has insisted the man responsible for her murder was Wellington Mohapi, one of Mothupi’s acquaintances.
His DNA was found on the scene, indicating he had slept with Mothupi and his communication with her was also suspect, with Facebook messages presented in court showing he had tried to offer her fake modelling contracts in Brazil.
Following an exhaustive two-day judgment at the Johannesburg High Court, Judge Betty Mahalelo said the State had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mohapi was responsible for rape or murder.
The defence, led by advocate Harmen van Beek, proposed Mothupi could have slipped in the bath, causing the bruise on her left eye, or that she may have been suicidal.
Acquitting Mohapi on both rape and murder charges, Judge Mahalelo said these possibilities could not be ignored.
Mohapi’s mother wept with relief, raising her hands in the air.Outside the courtroom, Mohapi held his fiance tightly, saying: “I’m out, I’m out.”
Mothupi’s mother refused to speak with Independent Media. John Vorster, who had helped raise Mothupi alongside his own adult daughters, Liezel and Adele, was flabbergasted.
“There’s no way he’s not guilty. He will have to live with his conscience,” he said.
The family is considering asking State advocate Shubnum Singh to apply for an appeal.