Eudy Simelane

A 24 year old man has been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Delmas Circuit Court for the murder, robbery and rape of lesbian soccer player Eudy Simelane.

Judge Ratha Mokgoathleng was unflinching in his judgement of 24 year old Themba Mvubu, saying: “The accused has shown no remorse whatsoever. He steadfastly maintains he was not to blame for the death of the deceased. That is his right. It’s painful to send a young person to jail, but if the young person behaves like an adult with criminal conduct, he cannot expect to hide behind his youthfulness.”

Speaking about the brutal crime, Mokgoathleng remarked that “Eudy Simelane suffered a brutal, undignified death… She was stripped naked, stabbed, assaulted, raped. What more indignity can a person endure?”

Simelane’s body was discovered with multiple stab wounds on 28 April 2008 in Kwa-Thema, Ekurhuleni. Her rape and murder is believed to have been prompted by homophobia.

“We can only make an inference that part of the knowledge of who she was had to do with her sexual and gender identity,” the judge noted, for the first time suggesting that Simelane’s murder was, at least in part, related to her sexuality.

According to the Mail & Guardian, Mvubu muttered “I’m not sorry” as he was led from the court after being sentenced.

Earlier this year, in a separate trial, Thato Mphiti, was sentenced to 32 years in prison after he confessed to the murder. He also accused three other men, including Mvubu, of taking part in the crime and agreed to be a state witness against them.

In July, in a shocking turn of events, Mphiti recanted his testimony and claimed that he had lied in his earlier statements and that the three men were innocent.

This appears to not have influenced Mokgoathleng’s judgement and sentencing of Mvubu. The two other men accused of the crime were, however, acquitted yesterday due to lack of evidence.

The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project expressed its relief at the conclusion of the trial, thanked everyone who has supported the mobilisations and campaign to ensure justice and called on all to support the long journey to ensure an egalitarian society.

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