Plea deal in horror gay murder case

Published Oct 31, 2014


Johannesburg - In July last year, Duduzile Zozo’s name and picture were splashed across print and broadcast media, her horrifying death sparking discourse across the country on hate crimes and legislation surrounding them.

Zozo was found strangled in a house just 10m away from her Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, home, her half-naked body left to rot with a toilet brush forced inside her genitals.

Three months later, when the man believed to have killed her was revealed to be a neighbour, the young lesbian’s grim final hours were once again headline news.

The motive seemed to be that Zozo deserved to die because she was openly gay, but as the court proceedings reach their conclusion, this may never be confirmed.

With less than a week before Zozo’s alleged killer, Lekgoa Lesley Motleleng, appears for what may be the final time in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, only two reporters attended Thursday’s proceedings.

The horde of media representatives who once accompanied the activists, friends and family of the slain young woman were nowhere to be found.

The once huge crowd of Thokoza residents had dwindled to just over a dozen – the faithful monitors of the case who want closure for their friend, daughter and fellow lobbyist.

Dikeledi Sibanda, a Forum for the Empowerment of Women activist, said that if her organisation had not arranged transport for Zozo’s friends and family, the courtroom would have been empty.

It was revealed on Thursday that Motleleng is seeking a plea bargain, and might plead guilty on Wednesday.

State prosecutor Mahlubi Ntlakaza told the court that a few working days would be enough time for such negotiations, implying a sentence was imminent.

For Zozo’s mother Thuziwe, this was not good news. She had been upbeat at the appearance of Motleleng on Monday, telling the crowd to be patient, that when the accused was finally held to account, “(they) would all be happy”.

However, with the possibility that Motleleng could receive a lenient sentence for admitting to his deeds, Thuziwe seemed despondent on Thursday. “It must be harsh,” she said.

The double-edged sword was equally sharp for Sibanda, who said the case had dragged on unnecessarily for more than a year without going to trial, and it had become difficult for Zozo’s family and friends to afford all the trips to court.

But Sibanda believed that Motleleng could receive a five- or 10-year sentence, which disturbed her further.

“We want a life sentence. Anything less won’t be satisfying,” she said.

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The Star

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