Zoliswa Nkonyana

The trial of the men charged with the hate crime murder of Zoliswa Nkonyana in February 2006 continues this week in the Khayelitsha Regional Court.

On Tuesday, the Triangle Project, which heads the Western Cape 070707 End Hate Alliance, issued an update of the events in court over the last few days.

Nine young men are standing trial for Nkonyana’s murder and two counts of attempted murder.

In a significant development, Magistrate Radiya Watton ruled that a signed confession by accused number four, Sicelo Mase, was admissible.

Mase had earlier claimed that he was coerced into signing the confession. Following testimony by the interpreter and police officers involved in the taking of confession this was rejected by the judge.

Triangle reported that on Wednesday chaos erupted at the court when supporters of the accused arrived in great numbers in a faceoff with activists supporting the Nkonyana family.

There were also claims that state witnesses were being intimidated with state witness Lara allegedly receiving a threatening call telling her “not to testify against the accused or else she would be killed”.

As a result, Lara’s testimony was held in camera. Only the immediate families of the accused and the victims, the media and human rights activists monitoring the case remained present.

In her testimony, the witness claimed that she “instigated the alleged argument” with Zoliswa and her friend, and later called her friends “to sort out the lesbians”.

The trial continues, with Triangle noting that “there has been more progress in the trial in the last six days than in the last three years”.

The case re-started on Monday 28 September after more than three years and 20 delays and postponements led to a protest march through the streets of Cape Town in August.

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.

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