Activists have expressed their concern, frustration and indignation at the further postponement on Monday of the long-awaited trial of those accused in the murder of Zoliswa Nkonyana.
Nineteen year old Nkonyana was stoned and beaten to death by a mob of 20 young men, apparently because she was a lesbian, in February 2006 in Khayelitsha, in the Western Cape.
Only nine men have been arrested, with the start of their trial in April postponed to May 19 because a defence attorney failed to show up.
At the time, Magistrate Watton of the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court warned all six defence attorneys to be present at the next hearing noting that further delays in the case “would not be acceptable.” He also ordered an investigation into why the defence attorney was not present.
On Monday, after satisfying himself that the defence attorney had indeed been ill at the time, the trial was again postponed by Magistrate Watton, this time to 22 August 2008.
Once more, he issued another stern warning to all six defence attorneys to be “fully prepared for a trial hearing” and that no further delays “would be condoned.”
Members of the Western Cape Alliance of 07-07-07 End Hate Campaign were present at the court to monitor the case, along with representatives of the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE).
More than one hundred members of the alliance staged a vigorous protest outside the court buildings, singing protest songs and waving posters demanding justice for Nkonyana and her family, and calling for legislation which addresses hate crimes.
Addressing the crowd after the hearing, Commissioner Yvette Abrahams from the CGE promisd to continue to monitor the case and said that, “I urge the community to remain vigilant about gender-based crime linked to sexual orientation so that women feel supported and protected as survivors of these crimes.”
Funeka Soldaat from Women in Action in Khayelitsha added her voice of concern and condemnation. “Women must know that they have rights. We cannot allow race, status and class to become barriers for township women to access justice or support. We can’t do this on our own, but we cannot wait for others to fight for us – we need to stand up, become visible and challenge the pillars that uphold destructive, stereotypical and discriminatory value systems.”