| EASTERN CAPE

Parents mourn their dead daughter, while her suspected killer is out on R300 bail

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Family blames police for wrong charges

Photo of woman
Bongeka Mgqobozi from Lady Frere Mhlanga village died in Queenstown Frontier hospital on 2 December. Photo: supplied
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An Eastern Cape family wants to know why a man charged with killing their daughter was granted R300 bail in Queenstown Magistrate’s court, and why he was charged with assault instead of attempted murder.

Bongeka Mgqobozi from Lady Frere Mhlanga village died in Queenstown Frontier hospital on 2 December.

The 27-year-old was in the hospital unconscious for a month after she was beaten on 2 November in Queenstown, allegedly by her 30-year-old boyfriend. She was dragged along the street, locked inside a flat and beaten again, then left lying on the floor.

Queenstown police spokesperson Namhla Mdleleni confirmed that a man had been arrested and had appeared in Queenstown Magistrates court on charges of assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. She said the suspect was granted R300 bail.

The Mgqobozi family and community leaders say they do not understand why the man was charged with assault instead of attempted murder.

Bongeka Mgqobozi’s mother Nondiliseko said her daughter was found by neighbours lying in a pool of blood.

Bongeka had left her Mhlanga home last month to look for a job in Queenstown.

The grieving mother said she received a call on the morning of 3 November from her daughter’s friend telling her that Bongeka had been rushed to hospital. The Mgqobozi family hired a car to travel to Frontier hospital in Queenstown.

“When we got to the hospital, my husband could not recognise our daughter. I only identified her by her feet. Her face and head were swollen. Her condition was very bad. She was not moving. Her eyes were closed. The pain I felt that minute was so unbearable I could not hold back my tears but I had to force myself to be strong for her,” said Nondiliseko.

“I could see that she was in so much pain,” she said.

Nondiliseko said doctors told her that her daughter was brain damaged and that Bongeka’s right side was not working.

“I’m so disappointed in the justice system. I lost a daughter and the person responsible for that paid R300 to be free. I want him back in jail.”

“He is going to enjoy Christmas while my Christmas will be without my daughter,” said Nondiliseko.

Community leader Dumisani Qwede said gender-based violence was very serious in Lady Frere and the justice system was failing women from rural areas.

Qwede blamed police for taking serious cases lightly and also the courts for granting bail to people who were a danger to the community.

“We might not be officers but we know when the justice system is failing us.”

He said that on 23 December last year the man accused of murdering a young girl had been let out on R500 bail. “He came back and committed suicide,” said Qwede.

Sixty-seven-year-old Pumla Baza was raped in 2014. “I don’t know how I survived the attack. He wanted to cut my throat and put me on a bag and dumped me in bushes. I spent weeks in a coma,” said Baza.

She said that when she came back from hospital the suspect had been granted R300 bail by the Lady Frere Magistrate’s court. It was not until October this year that his trial started and he was jailed. For years she had to watch him walking on the dusty streets of Mhlanga as if he had done nothing wrong, she says.

A 23-year-old, Nkonzo Godlo, has now been found guilty of rape and assault, according to Mdleleni, and will be sentenced in February 2020.

According to SAPS crime statistics in 2018, 74 rape cases were reported in Lady Frere and in 2019 the number increased to 84. But some women in the area can’t afford to get to the police station to report rape.

Qwede said in Mhlanga women are not safe. “We always wonder who is next. Most men are working in cities, leaving women looking after homes,” he said.

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