Zoliswa Nkonyana

Lawyers representing the nine men accused of murdering 19-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana in 2006 say that charges should be dropped against their clients.

This as the trial finally got underway on Thursday after 39 postponements and five years.

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.

According to Eyewitness News, the seven lawyers representing the accused told the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court that the state has failed to prove that their clients are guilty.

They claimed that that state witnesses’ evidence was “poor and inconsistent”. They cited, as an example, the fact that one of the witness could not identify the accused.

Activists pointed out that five years of delayed justice have taken their toll on the witnesses and their recollection of the events.

They say that the trial has been characterised by shoddy police work and bureaucratic bungling and delays.

“It’s very bad. One cannot believe that, after five years, such petty issues could come up. Shoddy police work has led to these delays,” Funeka Soldaat, from Free Gender, told Times Live.

“The lawyers have been challenging the way police have been handling the case,” she said.

In September last year, four of the accused escaped from the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court but were later recaptured.

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