Eudy Simelane trial update

EudySimelane

Convicted killer of lesbian soccer player ‘lies’ on the stand – Thato Mphiti arriving chained at the Delmas Circuit Court today

Delmas, South Africa: At least 250 activists from the Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provinces gathered in Delmas Circuit Court for the trial of the three additionally accused for robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and murder of former Banyana Banyana lesbian soccer player Eudy Simelane in April 2008. Before Judge R. Mokgoatlheng, K. Magagula, J. Mahlangu and T. Mvubu all pleaded not guilty to the three charges and an additional one of attempted robbery and assault of Tsepo Pitshe on the said night. Pitshe was initially arrested and later discharged for the same charges and is now in the list of State witnesses.

Advocate Mudau, the State Prosecutor, called as his first witness Thato Mphiti. Mphiti was convicted in February 2009 for the same charges following a confession and is currently serving a 32 years year sentence.

Background
The Court has established that Mphiti has, since his arrest on 28 April last year, made four statements to the SA Police and the Magistrate prior to the case been referred to a High Court, including one in which he accepts guilt on the charges places before him. The fourth statement was only made on 15 July 2009, after his conviction, on consideration of him becoming a State witness.

In all four statements, Mphiti reiterates that (i) they [the four accused] planned the robbery; (ii) that on approaching Simelane and company, Mvubu took her takkies after they did not find money; (iii) Magagula suggested she be raped in light of this; (iv) Mahlangu tried to insert his penis into Simelane and she cried “my vagina is closed… I was stitched by the doctor”; (v) and when Mvubu was taking ‘his turn’ on her, Simelane said “Themba (Mvubu) you know me, and why do you do this?”

Courtroom drama
At the stand and under oath, Mphiti testified that in all the four statements he had lied, that the three cautioned him against any violence on Simelane and that they left him alone and thus formed no part in the killing. He also said that robbing Simelane and her party was not premeditated; that they just walked into them and only then decided they were the targets for the intended robbery.

In the most unexpected way, following Mphiti’s testimony, Advocate Mudau requested an adjournment. Upon continuation, Adv. Mudau established that he had contradicted all statements and went against the consultation they had both had prior to today. With Mphiti’s insistence on the ‘new revelations’, which he attributed to him having converted into a ‘born again Christian who wanted to now tell the truth’ Mudau probed whether there had been money promised to him or if he had been threatened. This Mphiti refused.

Mphiti, who testified today that neither of the three had any physical contact with Simelane could not explain in any acceptable way how her blood was found on Mvubu’s clothes.

Impeachment:
In light of Mphiti’s turnabouts, Advocate Mudau moved for impeachment, which the Judge granted him the right to crossed examined Mphiti on the contradictions between his testimony today and the four statements submitted as evidence. Adv. Mudau demonstrated to the court that this testimony stood against not only his own admissions, but also those of other witnesses in line to be called to the box. And that Mphiti even contradicted the relations he had with the co-accused, having initially suggested that they were pals in the township.

Defence
Mphiti having laid a perfect case for the defence, the two attorneys representing the three accused underlined that their clients were not on the scene.

The case continues tomorrow through Friday, with activists calling for all three accused to receive maximum sentence on the charges they face.

Source: Lesbian and Gay Equality Project