Bail hearing in teen’s murder drags on for three months
Closing arguments for bail for accused in the murder of Sinoxolo Mafevuka should be heard today
Closing arguments on whether bail should be granted to the two accused in the murder of Khayelitsha teen Sinoxolo Mafevuka will be heard in court today. The bail application has been dragging on for three months. The accused have appeared before the court ten times.
Social Justice Coalition (SJC) members and people from the community packed the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court last week.
Delays in the case are “demoralising for Sinoxolo’s family and for the community members following the case. It gives the impression that there is no urgency to ensure justice,” said Chumile Sali from the SJC.
Mafevuka’s naked body was found on 1 March in a communal toilet a few minutes away from her home in Khayelitsha’s SST Section. An autopsy showed that she had died due to strangulation.
The two accused are cousins, aged 21 and 26. The court has ordered that their identity not be made public. They arrived late at the courthouse, at around 1pm, on Thursday. Mafevuka’s mother said she had been at the court since 9 am and left her home without even having breakfast. She said she was tired of how the case was being handled and the lack of progress. Most court days she was in court until after 4 pm because of the delays.
Magistrate wants “finality”
Magistrate Xolani Menyiwe addressed the packed gallery saying he had seen media reports about the delays regarding the case. “It is a pity that we were delayed because of late arrival [of the accused]. My wish is to hear everything today so that we do not postpone the judgement. We have been hearing the bail application for a long time now; it’s high time now that it reaches its finality”.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Thabo Nogemane questioned investigating officer constable Butiki Tshabalala about a petition from the community demanding that the accused not be released on bail and whether this meant their lives would be in danger if released. Tshabalala said he did believe their lives would be in danger.
During the proceedings, the accused kept looking over their shoulders at a woman, the mother of one of the accused. At one point, they made gestures to the woman saying that they were hungry. They were eventually asked by the magistrate what the problem was and Nogemane said the men were complaining of stomach cramps because of hunger. They were brought samp and beans and ate during the proceedings.
Throughout the cross examination, the accused were listening, at times whispering to each other, giggling or shaking their heads in disbelief at what the investigating officer was saying.
Closing arguments will be heard today.
Update: On 1 July, bail was denied. The case is postponed until 19 August.
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