Alleged killer of schoolteacher denied bail again

Kirsten Kluyts, the murdered Sandton school teacher. Facebook

Kirsten Kluyts, the murdered Sandton school teacher. Facebook

Published Jun 25, 2024


The 22-year-old student accused of murdering Sandton teacher Kirsten Kluyts while she was taking part in a MyRun event last year, will remain behind bars for the duration of his trial after he lost his appeal against the earlier refusal to grant him bail.

The Alexandra Regional Court refused him bail after the magistrate found that, on the face of it, the State had a good case against accused Bafana Mahungela.

He turned to the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg to appeal the ruling. Judge RS Strydom said the interest of justice did not permit the release from detention of an accused where there was a likelihood that the accused would endanger the safety of the public.

The judge said that implicit in the charge of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances against Mahungela, was the high degree of violence that had been inflicted on Kluyts.

Judge Strydom added that while there was only an on-the-face-of-it case against Mahungela, based on circumstantial evidence, what the court was dealing with was more than a mere unsubstantiated fear or suspicion that he would endanger public safety.

On October 29 last year, Kluyts took party in an event at George Lee Park, Sandton and had been jogging. Shortly after 8pm, she was captured on video when she started her third round of the running track. She had been wearing a blue T-shirt, black ski pants, running shoes, sunglasses and a cap.

She had her cellphone with her, earphones and a watch. Barely 20 minutes later, her cellphone was found lying close to the running track and, shortly thereafter, her naked body was found in a ditch next to a wall.

The post-mortem report revealed that the cause of death was blunt-force head trauma, strangulation and that smothering or pressure to the neck could not be excluded.

The peculiar circumstances under which Kluyts died led to a further investigation of the footage of several close circuit video cameras in the park as well as the wider surrounding area. The video footage shows a person, later identified as Mahungela, coming into the park shortly after 8pm. He was wearing a black T-shirt.

Shortly before 9pm, he was captured on video walking while wearing the deceased’s blue T-shirt and had items rolled up in his hands. He was also seen scaling a closed gate that led to the outside of the park.

Further video footage shows that the person wearing the blue T-shirt disposed of a cap and other clothing in a drain. He went back to see if the items were visible from the road. The cap was later retrieved from the drain.

Mahungela did not contest the evidence and even agreed that the clothing he had carried and later disposed of in the drain were that of the deceased. He agreed that he had taken the cap of deceased and had replaced his black shirt with her blue T-shirt.

He, however, denied killing Kluyts. He testified that he had got lost and ended up in the park. At some stage, he had wanted to relieve himself and had walked down an embankment.

There, he said, he had seen something strange in a rag. On further investigation, he had seen a woman lying on her side.

He had been uncertain about whether she was alive and had rolled her body over. He had felt for her pulse but there had been none. Her neck was swollen. He had realised that she was dead but thought that his fingerprints could have been left on her clothing since he had touched her.

Given the sensitive racial dynamics in South Africa, he had decided to distance himself from the dead body to avoid a suspicion aimed at him. He had not raised the alarm but had undressed the deceased to avoid having the lifting of fingerprints from her clothing implicating him in her death.

He admitted having worn her T-shirt but failed to provide an explanation for that. He also admitted to having disposing of her clothing, but denied having taken her watch and sunglasses.

Mahungela said the State had a weak case against him and the magistrate was wrong in finding that he was a danger to society.

In yet again denying him bail on appeal, Judge Strydom said that on the face of it, it could not be said the State had a weak case.

The criminal proceeding against Mahungela, which is in its early stage, has been postponed until next month (July).

Pretoria News