Zoliswa Nkonyana

The trial of the men accused of killing lesbian Zoliswa Nkonyana is to restart mid October following the recent escape and re-arrest of four of the men.

Lawyers for three of the men withdrew their representation last week as a result of their clients escaping and due to lack of payment.

They have now agreed to continue on the case as long as they are paid by the Legal Aid Board. The lawyers will need to be enrolled with the Board and negotiate their fees, which will take time.

Activists monitoring the trial have called for the case, which has become an embarrassment for the South African criminal justice system, to be moved from the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court to the High Court.

Nineteen year old Nkonyana was beaten, stoned and stabbed to death by a group of around 20 men in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape on 4 February 2006 – just meters from her home – allegedly for being a lesbian.

Nkonyana’s murder investigation and trial has lasted more than four years and endured more than 25 delays and postponements.

Most recently, four of the nine men accused of the murder were allegedly helped to escape by a police sergeant at the Magistrate’s Court. They were recaptured a few days later and the sergeant has since been arrested.

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