The five young men accused of murdering lesbian Eudy Simalane appeared before Acting Chief Magistrate Mandla Mthombeni in a packed Springs Magistrate Court C on Monday.
The men – K. Magabhula, J. Mahlangu, T. Mvuba, T. Pitja and T. Phithi – did not argue against the State Prosecutor’s motion for bail to be denied, following questions by the Magistrate.
In his motivation for urging that bail not be granted, the State Prosecutor said that although the men were appearing in court on a charge of murder, an investigation is underway that might bring further charges of rape and robbery against them.
He further stated that there was also an investigation to charge three additional people accused in the case.
Accused number five, T. Phithi, who is said to have left with Simelane from her home the night before her body was found, told the court that he wished to make a confession.
This was to be completed by the end of Monday. He also said that he is also due to appear in court on 7 May on a separate charge of robbery.
Approximately 300 activists from the 777 Campaign to End Hate, LGBT people from neighbouring townships, members of the African National Congress, concerned residents of Kwa-Thema and many NGOs and social movement, bearing symbols of solidarity and calling for “justice for Eudy,” attended the hearing and picketed outside the court.
The magistrate remanded all five to remain in custody and to appear on 13 May at 08h30 for him to hear their application for legal aid.
Representatives of the 777 campaign met with the family after the hearing. The campaign is liaising closely with all the parties involved to ensure coordination and mobilisation for the 13 May court appearance and beyond.
On Thursday last week, angry members of the local community gathered at the Kwa-Thema Methodist Church to mourn the loss of a Simalane, described as a “cherished daughter, a friend, an ardent soccer lover, a SAFA referee, and an unrelenting activist.”
Speaking at the memorial Lindi Lasindwa, a Member of Parliament, pleaded with the community not to allow itself to be cowed into silence, and urged them to join forces and raise their collective voice on behalf of Simelane.
The county’s oldest gay and lesbian organisation, Cape Town’s Triangle Project, has joined in on the chorus of condemnation of the murder.
The Director of Triangle Project, Vanessa Ludwig, said she was “outraged that yet another life was brutally taken. Eudy chose to live her life authentically as a proud lesbian woman. As important as our constitutional rights are – it has once again been proven that our daily realities as LGBTI persons are far removed from our paper rights.”
“Black lesbians are still marginalised and victimised by heterosexual men who claim exclusive rights to women’s bodies. Our fight and activism to eradicate homophobia and prejudice from society has only just begun,” she said.
Simelane, a former player in the South African national women’s soccer team, was assaulted, raped and murdered in the Tornado section of Kwa Thema in the East Rand at the end of April.