A member of the Sikhumbule Safe Space Group outside the Blue Downs Regional Court (Pic: Triangle Project)
The man accused of murdering Noluvo Swelindawo, a proudly lesbian woman, appeared in the Blue Downs Regional Court in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The alleged killer is 24-year-old Signice Mdani. He was arrested on Monday and has been charged with house breaking, intent to assault, kidnapping and the murder of 22-year-old Swelindawo, also known as Vovo.
It’s alleged that he was one of a group of men who broke into the young woman’s home in Driftsands near Khayelitsha at night, abducted her and later shot her. Her body was found the next day dumped alongside the N2 highway.
It remains unclear why the other men alleged to have been involved in the abduction have not been charged, but investigations are continuing. Disturbingly, Cape Town LGBTI organisation Triangle Project has reported that Swelindawo’s partner has recieved death threats from some of these men.
During Wednesday’s hearing it was revealed that Mdani may have had previous criminal charges laid against him, although the state has not yet completed his profile. He will remain in custody until his bail application resumes in court on 21 December.
Representatives from Triangle Project attended the hearing, as did members of the Driftsands Sikhumbule Safe Space Group, of which Swelindawo was an active member. They came to support her partner and family, including Swelindawo’s cousin, who raised her after her parents passed away.
Zuko Mnukwa, leader of the group, became emotional as he told Mambaonline about seeing Mdani in court. “When the door opened and he came out and he looked at us… I felt the anger, the sadness and the fear… I can’t explain. It made it real that it happened,” he said.
The Sikhumbule group has asked for financial support from the LGBTI community and its allies to allow some of its members to travel to the Eastern Cape to bury Swelindawo in her home town of Lady Frere, on Saturday, 17 December.
Mnukwa said it was important for her friends and fellow activists to find closure. “If we don’t go, there will always be a feeling of regret and that we have failed her. We lived with her and we would like to close the last chapter with her. We want to be with her till the last moment,” he explained. [Update: More than R12,000 was successfully raised.]
Other plans to honour Swelindawo include a walk through the streets of Driftsands with members of the community and representatives from various organisations, on Saturday, 10 December. They will walk to her home and to where her body was found, and will lay flowers in her memory. Prayers will then be held in the Driftsands Community Hall.
A memorial service will also take place on Wednesday 14 December at 6pm in the Mzamotsha Primary School hall, in Driftands.