The state wrapped up its case on Friday against the three men accused of killing lesbian soccer player Eudy Simelane. The trial was then postponed to 26 August when the defence team will present its case.
Yesterday, the three men – Khumbulani Magagula, Johannes Mahlangu and Themba Mvubu – pleaded not guilty to all charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and murder, reports Behind The Mask.
Thato Mphiti who confessed to the murder in February, and was sentenced to 31 years imprisonment, was expected to be a state witness against the three other men. However, he shocked the court by changing his previous statement, now claiming that the three accused did not participate in the murder and rape of Simelane and that he alone committed the crime.
Mphiti was yesterday considered a hostile witness and was cross-examined by teh state prosecutor who concluded that his testimony stood against not only his own earlier admissions, but also those of other witnesses.
Activists and supporters said they were shocked and disturbed that the main state witness had changed his statement.
“We are calling for [the accused ] to be found guilty and get a maximum sentence for each count,” Phumzile Mtetwa, spokeswoman for the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, told SAPA outside the court.
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.