Khayelitsha lesbian murder trial set to start next week, after tenth postponement

“I understand the reason for the postponement, but this country’s legal system is bad” says sister of murder-victim Phelokazi Mqathanya

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

6 October 2022

Phumeza Ndlwana, the sister of Phelokazi Mqathanya, says the family is disheartened and drained by the constant postponements of the case against her sister’s accused murderer. Archive photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

There were mixed emotions among the friends of murder-victim Phelokazi Mqathanya on Thursday when the state announced that the trial against the accused would be heard next week.

The brief appearance at the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court was the tenth postponement in the case. The court granted the last postponement on 5 September to allow the senior public prosecutor to provide an outcome on whether or not the case against the accused would be withdrawn.

Mqathanya, who lived in Site C in Khayelitsha, was stabbed to death on 2 May 2021. She was lesbian and her family and activists believe her murder was a hate crime.

The accused, Bongani Ngadleka, was arrested soon after the murder. But after several delays in the investigations and four court postponements, the case was removed from the court’s roll on 14 December 2021. The case was brought back to court on 5 May 2022 following action by Free Gender, a lesbian rights organisation.

While briefly in the court’s dock, Ngadleka was informed that his case was postponed to 13 October for a pre-trial hearing.

Outside court, Mqathanya’s sister Nozuko Ndlwana told GroundUp: “The fact that it’s being postponed again is saddening and draining. I understand the reason for the postponement, but this country’s legal system is bad.”

“Every single time after a court case, we get home and have to give the same feedback. It’s tiring,” said Ndlwana.

Mqathanya’s friend, Velisa Jara, who is also from Free Gender, said: “People aren’t even coming to the court cases anymore because they already know that it will be postponed. It can’t continue being like this.”