Artist accused of killing sex worker back in court

JOHN HARVEY

The case against international artist Zwelethu Mthethwa, accused of kicking and beating sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo to death in Woodstock in 2013, continued in the Western Cape High Court this week.

At the heart of the trial is CCTV footage the State claims shows Mr Mthethwa assaulting the victim in Ravenscraig Road in the early hours of April 14, 2013. The footage was deemed admissable following a trial within a trial last year.

Earlier this week it emerged that Judge Patricia Goliath was considering an inspection in loco of the scene, which falls within a heavily industrialised section of Woodstock.

The State is expected to call all its witnesses this week. The length of the trial has drawn sharp criticism from activists, who say that defence advocate William Booth has been engaged in “stall tactics”. Mr Booth has repeatedly denied this, saying there has been numerous technical difficulties in gathering evidence.

Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) spokesperson Lesego Tlhwale said the organisation was keeping a close eye on the case.

“There are delaying tactics, but we are confident justice will be served. We just have to be patient. We waited a long time for Johannes Christiaan de Jager (who raped and killed sex worker Hiltina Alexander in 2008) to be convicted in 2014. He ended up getting life in prison.

“One of the facts Nokuphila’s case has highlighted is what can happen to sex workers in dark places, which they are forced into because these are the only places they can work. Ravenscraig Road at night is a dangerous place. If sex workers were allowed to operate in the open so police could protect them, this death might have been prevented,” Ms Tlhwale said.