Thabani Mzolo, the man charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend Zolile Khumalo, will next appear before the Durban High Court in January. Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu/ African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – Thabani Mzolo, the man charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) student Zolile Khumalo, will next appear before the Durban High Court in January.

Mzolo’s previous attorney, Charl Claassen, withdrew from the case in October due to non-payment. While he could have accepted the services of legal aid, Mzolo insisted that he wanted a private defence attorney.

The case has been littered with delays as Mzolo changed lawyers and, during his bail application, could not provide a valid address. He eventually abandoned his bail bid.

At the Durban High Court on Tuesday, state advocate Nadira Moosa asked judge Themba Sishi to adjourned the case to 31 January 2019 so that Mzolo’s new attorney, Mxolisi Ndwandwe, can be furnished with the case docket and confirm his client has settled relevant fees ahead of the trial expected to begin in March.  

Looking decidedly fuller in the face and upper body than at previous appearances, Mzolo appeared briefly in the dock, scowling slightly, as about 20 spectators – including three of Khumalo’s family members – watched silently from the gallery.

Twenty-four-year-old Mzolo is accused of killing 21-year-old Khumalo, a first-year quantity surveying student, inside her Lonsdale residence room on 1 May, and then, through a series of obscure social media posts, is believed to have confessed.

The state has alleged that Khumalo ended the relationship she had with Mzolo in March or April this year. The indictment reads: “The termination of the relationship was not accepted by the accused. He decided to kill her.” 

Spurned by his former partner, Mzolo allegedly made his way to the off-campus residence, situated near the city centre, and gained entry after sending another student to check that Khumalo was in her room. 

Mzolo is alleged to have gunned down Khumalo in front of her roommate and the student who checked if she was in her room. While she lay on the floor bleeding, Mzolo allegedly kicked her.

The gun used in the killing was a nine-millimetre calibre that had its serial number removed. Mzolo also - indictment reads - had in his possession three live rounds of ammunition.

At his first appearance, the accused garnered the wrath of students and community members for consistently grinning for photographers and appearing to make a trigger sign when leaving the courtroom. 

Khumalo’s murder led to outrage amongst MUT students, who demanded increased security at their off-campus residences, including metal detectors.

African News Agency (ANA)