The late Lindo Cele
The man accused of brutally stabbing up-and-coming queer musician Lindo Cele to death has been found guilty of his murder and sentenced to prison.
Following repeated delays in the trial, the Durban High Court ruled that Mvuyisi Noguda had indeed killed the 23-year-old artist and LGBTQ activist on 6 February 2020, and on Tuesday sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
Activists and supporters gathered at the court to hear the verdict and sentence this week in a case which outraged South Africans last year.
Noguda, 32, stabbed Cele 21 times with a butcher’s knife in a shop in uMlazi, outside of Durban, in plain sight of many witnesses. So brutal was the attack that the knife was lodged in Cele’s eye socket. He was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
The killer claimed to the court that he’d been told by a friend that Cele had drugged and then raped him at a New Year’s house party while he was unconscious.
Noguda did not report the alleged rape and left town to stay with relatives. When he returned a month later, he claims that he was overcome by uncontrollable rage when he saw Cele.
While Judge Narini Hiralall found that the defence had not proved the rape allegation, the state had also not been able to show that the murder was premeditated. She further described Noguda’s account as inconsistent.
Judge Hiralall described Cele’s murder as a “hateful and savage attack.” She told Noguda: “There was no evidence before the court, except your say so, that the deceased had raped you. Yet he lost his life because you believed he raped you because, as you said, he was the only gay person around.”
Nonhlanhla Mkhize, who is Acting Programmes Manager for the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, noted that the defence had been unable to provide a witness, specifically the person who allegedly told Noguda that he’d been raped, to support his claim.
Mkhize, who is also Co-Chair of the KZN Task Team on Hate Crimes Against LGBTI People, admitted that some in the LGBTIQ community believe Noguda deserved a harsher sentence, which she agrees “would have been ideal”.
They noted, however, that the standard murder sentence in South Africa is 15 years “but because the judge recognised the act as a hate crime, he was given 25 years”.
Roché Kester, the Hate Crime Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being, welcomed the successful prosecution of Cele’s killer.
“The murder of Lindokuhle was very brutal. The sentence is an indication that the courts are listening to the pleas of the LGBTI community by issuing a strong sentence,” Kester told MambaOnline. “This should be a precedent for anyone who commits a homophobic or transphobic attack.”
As for Noguda’s justification for the murder, Kester said that it was unproven and a very dangerous argument, especially in South Africa.
“LGBTI communities are already a vulnerable population and retribution, as a reason for committing an exceptionally violent crime against LGBTI people, cannot be tolerated as it further marginalises these communities,” added Kester.