Thato Mphiti arriving chained at the
Delmas Circuit Court yesterday.

In a dramatic development yesterday in court, a man who pleaded guilty to murdering lesbian soccer player Eudy Simelane has now claimed that his three co accused are innocent, reports the 070707 Campaign To End Hate.

Over 250 activists appeared outside the Delmas Circuit Court on Wednesday for the resumption of the trial. Simelane’s body was discovered with multiple stab wounds on 28 April 2008 in Kwa-Thema, Ekurhuleni. The rape and murder is believed to have been prompted by homophobia.

The alleged homophobic hate crime saw four suspects being accused, with one man, Thato Mphiti, being sentenced to 32 years in prison after he confessed to the crime in February this year. He also earlier accused three other men of taking part in the crime.

Mphiti was expected to testify against Khumbulane Magagula, Johannes Mahlangu and Themba Mvubu – who have pleaded not guilty – in court yesterday.

However in a surprising turn of events Mphiti instead testified under oath that he had lied in his earlier statements. He claimed that the three men cautioned him against any violence against Simelane and that they left him alone and formed no part in the murder.

Mphiti, who testified that none of the three had any physical contact with Simelane, could not explain how her blood was found on Mvubu’s clothes.

Advocate Mudau, the state prosecutor, told the court that Mphiti’s latest testimony went against not only his own admissions, but also those of other witnesses in line to be called to the box.

The trial continues today and tomorrow, with activists calling for all three accused to receive the maximum sentence for the charges they face.

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