Charges dismissed against three men accused of murdering Zanele Sandlana

Magistrate’s decision greeted with tears by protesters

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Friends and family of Zanele Sandlana protested outside the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. Photo: Phatiswa Shushwana

A couple of dozen Khayelitsha residents, many of them friends and family of Zanele Sandlana, Marched from Esangweni Secondary School in Kuyasa to the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, where the three men accused of Sandlana’s murder were appearing.

“We are here today to demand justice for Zanele. We are here to demand that her killers be punished,” Mandisi Sindelo, one of the march leaders said.

Sandlana was murdered in 2017 at the age of 21. She was last seen alive by her family on 2 September, when she left to attend a friend’s party in Site B, Khayelitsha.

Her body was discovered the next day dumped in an open space in TR section, Site B. She was lying face down, stripped of her clothes. She had been raped, burnt — probably to destroy evidence — and had a bottle stuffed in her mouth.

Sandlana was a mother of a young girl. She was also a performing artist. Members of Theatre for Change, an organisation that tries to empower women using drama, as well as members of Future Line Arts supported Tuesday’s protest.

Three men — Masixole Scott (25 at the time) Luthando Mposelwa (33) and Bonani Zeleni (35) — were arrested in October 2017 for her rape and murder. EWN reported at the time that Khayelitsha’s Harare Community Policing Forum said their arrests had restored the community’s faith in the police.

In an article in the Cape Times on 23 October, SAPS spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said “Crimes against women and children top the SAPS agenda. Police will not rest until those responsible are removed from society.”

The trio made their first court appearance in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court that day. The case was postponed till 30 October.

The three men were later granted R1,000 bail each. They appeared in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court again on Tuesday but the case was dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

Sandlana’s mother was distraught and left the court immediately. Outside, protesters began crying. Two protesters we spoke to criticised the police investigation and the court. One (who wished to remain anonymous) claimed that one of the men had told someone she knew that they had done it. Another, Tino Hashe, said that strings of hair from Sandlana’s weave were found in one of the accused’s rooms during the investigation. (GroundUp is unable to verify these claims.)

Protesters felt that justice had been denied to Zanele Sandlana and her family, despite Rwexana’s words.

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