Zoliswa Nkonyane

The murder trial of the men accused of killing Zoliswa Nkonyana has been delayed once again, making this the 20th postponement in the ongoing search for LGBT justice.

Nkonyana was beaten, stoned and stabbed to death by a group of around 20 men in Khayelitsha on 4 February 2006 – reportedly for being a lesbian.

The trial is set to resume on September 28th, nearly 9 months after it began. “The severity of this crime and the clear motivation of homophobic hate that precipitated it indicates that this should be a priority case. However there seems to be no acknowledgment of this from the court, trial dates are set months apart, seemingly scheduled around every other commitment the defence attorneys have,” a statement from the Joint Working Group (JWG) said.

Fifteen out of the twenty delays have been due to problems with the defence counsel for the accused. Meanwhile, the nine accused men have not faced any consequences for the homophobic attack. During their court appearances, they act arrogantly, waving to their girlfriends in the gallery while Nkonyana’s mother sits in court grieving.

“The presiding Magistrate has shown that she is either unable or unwilling to put a stop to the madness and take a firm grasp on the case. It is clear that while the rights of the accused with regard to their legal representation will be entertained endlessly, the rights of Zoliswa’s family to closure, the rights of the other victims to justice and rights of the state witness to be able to move on with her life are all of little or no importance to the court,” the statement reads.

“It has become increasingly clear that the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court is incapable of taking this case forward and as such we are demanding that the matter be transferred to the High Court immediately. We will be writing letters to all the relevant authorities to this effect and taking all necessary actions to ensure our demands are met. Justice for Zoliswa is long overdue and we can no longer sit by and watch injustice prevail in a court of law.”

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