The a trial of the man accused of murdering Phelokazi Mqathanya, in what is believed to have been a hate crime, will commence in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court in January.
After nearly a dozen postponements, family and friends were relieved on Tuesday, when the court set the trial date, following the fatal stabbing in May last year.
The victim from Site C in Khayelitsha was lesbian and relatives and activists believe this may have contributed to her death.
Bongani Ngadleka, the accused, was arrested shortly after the murder but after several delays in the investigations and multiple postponements in court, the case was removed from the roll in December last year.
It was then brought back to court in May following action by Free Gender, a lesbian rights organisation.
However, further postponements followed when two of the prosecutors were not in court a fortnight ago.
This was the eleventh time the case had been postponed since it was brought back to the court in May.
Ngadleka again entered the dock briefly on Tuesday, wearing black and gold sunglasses and a grey suit.
In response to questions from the magistrate, that state said it intended to call four witnesses to testify.
The accused’s representative said that his client had two witnesses, adding that Ngadleka pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.
The matter was eventually set down for trial next year and the accused will return to court on 18 January.
“Even though the trial is for next year, at least we are getting somewhere,” Free Gender’s Funeka Soldaat, told GroundUp outside the court on Tuesday.
Mqathanya’s sister Nozuko Ndlwana added that the fact that a trial date had now been scheduled had given some consolation and that she hoped that there would be justice for her sister’s murder.
She further pointed out that the accused would remain behind bars during the festive season.
Picture/Words: Mary-Anne Gontsana / GroundUp