Activists have expressed outrage at another delay in the trial of the men accused of the murder of 19-year old Zoliswa Nkonyana.
Despite previous stern warnings by Magistrate Watton that no further undue delays “would be condoned,” the case has been postponed for the fifth time in the Khayelitsha Regional Court – this time until to 21 October.
One of the nine men accused of brutally stabbing, beating and stoning Nkonyana to death in February 2006, and who is currently out on bail, has been given more time to brief his new attorney to prepare for trial. This follows a change in his defence team.
The Western Cape End Hate Alliance said in a statement that “the process to date is a travesty of justice and cannot be allowed to continue. This case has been before the court since December 2006 and has been unduly postponed due to delay strategies by the defence.”
“We demand justice for the family of Zoliswa, and for the chief state witness who is currently under an enormous amount of emotional pressure having to relive this traumatic experience over and over.”
The alliance partners reiterated their commitment and determination to exert pressure on the State to ensure that the trial moves forward.
Human Rights activists have raised concerns that the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities are being neglected in the current political climate of uncertainty.
“There is no political will to ensure safety and security, justice and an end to acts of homophobic crimes toward LGBTI persons. Violence and brutality against black lesbians go unreported and do not enjoy the same priorities, media attention, vigorous police investigation and high-profile access to justice compared to gender-based murders in urban areas,” said the alliance.
“Political leaders are quick to condemn crime and violence if they are linked to well-resourced, privileged families. Ordinary women in rural areas and previously disadvantaged communities still find themselves on the margins and periphery.”
The alliance said that it plans to hold a public protest outside the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 21 October 2008, between 09h00 and 12h00.
The Western Cape End Hate Alliance includes partners such as the Commission for Gender Equality; AIDS Legal Network; Gender DynamiX; Good Hope MCC; Free Gender; The TAC; The Inner Circle; Inclusive & Affirming Ministries; Engender; Intersex SA; Triangle Project; various community-based organisations and community activists and leaders.