Vovo’s lesbian hating killer gets 18 years, but is that enough?


Noluvo (Vovo) Swelindawo

The man found guilty of killing 22-year-old Noluvo Swelindawo in 2016 for being a lesbian is to spend close to two decades behind bars.

On Monday, 26-year-old Sigcine Mdani was sentenced to a total of 18 years in jail in the Western Cape High Court.

He received 3 years for assault with the intention of causing grievous bodily harm, 5 years for housebreaking and kidnapping, 15 years for murder and 2 years for the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. The sentence will be served concurrently over the 18 years.

Judge Derek Wille had earlier ruled that the murder was motivated by Mdani’s intolerance towards Swelindawo’s sexual orientation.

“The evidence shows she was assaulted because of her sexuality,” said the judge, reported the Cape Times. “We live in a so-called civilised society. Where we get get angry with someone, we don’t beat them because of their sexual orientation.”

Judge Wille found that Mdani first attacked Swelindawo, also known as Vovo, on 2 December 2016; stamping on her head and kicking her in the face.

Days later, he abducted Swelindawo from her Driftsands home in the middle of the night as her terrified partner watched on, and shot her. Swelindawo’s body was found dumped next to the N2 highway near Khayelitsha.

In light of the brutal, predetermined and hate-based nature of the crime, 18 years appears to be a lesser sentence than many would expect.

Sharon Cox, Health & Support Services Manager at Triangle Project, who has been closely monitoring the case told Mambaonline that she had hoped for a sentence of at least 20 years and said that the state advocate had asked for a life sentence.

Vovo’s killer in court (Pic: Sharon Cox)

“We would have liked a deviation from the minimum sentence of 15 years [for murder]. In light of the fact that Mdani is a first offender, this was never going to be the case,” she said.

Cox also noted that the killer never showed any remorse during the trial, “even when Vovo’s brother and partner broke down in the stand”.

She, however, praised both the judge and State Advocate Ntsoaki Mabilietse for their “excellent” understanding of the nature and prevalence of hate crimes and how these should never be tolerated.

A new report on hate crimes released last week, found that members of the LGBT community are among the most vulnerable individuals when it comes to hate-based incidents in South Africa.

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