The sentencing of four men found guilty of murdering Zoliswa Nkonyane because she was a lesbian has again been postponed, this time because to lawyers were absent from the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s court on Monday.
In October Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Lonzi and Mbulelo Damba were found guilty of stoning and stabbing 19-year-old Nkonyane to death in February 4, 2006, just metres away from her home.
Nine men ranging in age from 19 to 25 stood trial. However, five were acquitted because of lack of evidence in a trial which has seen over 40 postponements, resulting in the case dragging on for five years.
The expected sentencing was last postponed on September 21 in order for correctional services, victim impact report and social worker reports to be obtained by prosecutor Anthea Allchile.
Allchile confirmed she finally received all the reports on Monday morning.
“All reports have been received this morning, but two lawyers are not present today and the court is aware of that. I would like the sentencing report to be postponed until all lawyers get chance to speak with the accused,” said Allichile.
A number of organizations, among them the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Free Gender were furious with the further postponement.
“This is bad, we’re totally not happy about the outcome of this case. The reports are there, but we still have to wait for lawyers that were not present in court, even though they knew they had a case to represent,” said SJC spokesperson Angie Peters.
Allchile also confirmed that the state would be calling two witnesses to support the arguments around aggravating factors that should be taken into account before sentencing.
Magistrate Raadiyah Wathen said all necessary pre-sentencing reports have been obtained and all the lawyers involved would be given the opportunity to speak with the accused about the reports.
Wathen postpone the case for sentencing on December 19. — Nombulelo Damba