Zanele Khumalo was beautiful, bubbly and had an undeniable zest for life. She was also head over heels in love with Thato Kutumela, and the couple were expecting a baby together. Then the unthinkable happened. The man Zanele loved turned into a monster who made her life miserable.
Zanele’s family and friends said the teenager had not wanted to continue with the relationship because Kutumela assaulted her and was controlling. They said Zanele “saw him as a psychopath” who at times abused her. She ended the relationship and tried to move forward for the sake of the baby she was expecting, but Kutumela could not let go.
He continued to bombard her with phone calls and would pitch up at her home, pleading for a reconciliation. Her father eventually barred Kutumela from their house after he apparently assaulted her and took her cellphone but not even this could prevent her tragic and gruesome death.
On April 21, 2011, Zanele was strangled in her parents’ Garsfontein home. S he was five months pregnant. Her killer had raped her and viciously throttled her, leaving her body lying on her bed. Her parents discovered her body later that day.
When Thato Kutumelo went on trial for the murder he steadfastly denied any involvement in her death and, in fact, claimed that he saw an unknown man leaving the Khumalo home on the day of the murder. Despite this, he was eventually convicted of her murder after a trial in which his explosive temper surfaced numerous times.
Zanele never got to celebrate her 21st birthday. She never experienced the joy of motherhood. She will never celebrate another Women's Month or Christmas. Zanele never had a chance to realise her dreams.
For Zanele's sake and the sake of women everywhere, if you know somebody who has committed an act of violence against a woman Don't Look Away.
If you know a young woman's life is in danger, Don't Look Away.
If you are able to help prevent another tragedy, Don't Look Away.
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