Sentencing postponed in lesbian murder case

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Four men convicted of murdering a lesbian near Cape Town will receive their sentences just before Christmas.

Zoliswa Nkonyana,19, was stabbed and stoned to death in Khayelitsha on February 4th 2006.

Nine men were arrested, but only Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Londzi and Mbulelo Damba were found guilty of the murder last month.

Since the trial began, gay rights campaigners and residents from the town have continued to picket outside Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court.

The case has been postponed more than 40 times.

Ms Nkonyana lived openly as a lesbian and gay rights campaigners say her killing was motivated by homophobia.

Activists from the Treatment Action Campaign, Triangle Project, Social Justice Coalition and Free Gender released a statement on 7th September which strongly criticised the way the case had been handled.

They jointly said, “In the five-and-a-half years since the case began, there have been upwards of 40 postponements.

“A case of this nature should never take this long in a functional, healthy justice system”.

The group went on to mention that a witness, who was asked to give evidence in the trial, had been attacked.

Eric Ntabazalila, a spokesman for South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority, said some of the delays were due to the accused changing lawyers, with some of them also escaping from custody.

The men are due to be sentenced from December 19th.