Zoliswa Nkonyana

Activists have welcomed the Khayelitsha Regional Court’s decision not to grant the four men who killed lesbian Zoliswa Nkonyana leave to appeal.

Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase, Luyanda Londzi and Mbulelo Damba had appealed their conviction and sentence.

On Friday, magistrate Raadiyah Wathen ruled against their request, saying that she did not believe that another court would come to a different conclusion in the case.

In January, she sentenced the four men, who stoned and stabbed the 19-year Nkonyana to death in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape in 2006, to 18 years in prison.

In her sentencing, Magistrate Wathen highlighted the issue of Zoliswa’s sexual orientation and the hate crime nature of the attack.

Western Cape LGBT rights group Triangle Project applauded the court’s decision against the men’s leave to appeal.

“This refusal of leave to appeal reflects for us that the court ruling was based on sound consideration of the hate crime elements evident in this most brutal murder and that no other court would be convinced otherwise,” Jayne Arnott, Triangle Project director, told Mambaonline.

“We trust that this ruling will have an impact on future cases of this nature. However we need increased urgent and concerted efforts by government and civil society to act decisively to address increasing levels of homophobia, discrimination and violence and protect and promote the rights of LGBT persons. These rights are not different to the rights of all who live here,” she said.

The ruling was also welcomed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The NPA’s Eric Ntabazalila told Eye Witness News: “It sends a strong message that the state will not condone hate crimes.”

The trial of the men who killed Nkonyana lasted more than five years and was postponed more than 40 times. Five other men charged with her murder were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

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