DeafSA to provide interpreter for murder accused

IN THE DOCK: Luthando Silwana, Lunga Khimbili, Zukile Danti, Siwaphiwe Maboleka and Philasande Kinase appeared in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court for the murder of deputy school principal Nodumo Mdleleni-Mzimane yesterday Picture: LOYISO MPALANTSHANE
IN THE DOCK: Luthando Silwana, Lunga Khimbili, Zukile Danti, Siwaphiwe Maboleka and Philasande Kinase appeared in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court for the murder of deputy school principal Nodumo Mdleleni-Mzimane yesterday Picture: LOYISO MPALANTSHANE
The South African National Association for the Deaf (DeafSA) said it would provide an interpreter to help in the case of five deaf pupils accused of killing their deputy principal.

The accused, aged between 18 and 23, made a brief appearance in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court on a charge of murder yesterday.

They are accused of plotting the murder of deputy principal of Efata School for Blind and Deaf, 50-year-old Nodumo Mdleleni-Mzimane.

She was found dead with multiple stab wounds at the school in July this year. The murder weapon was still lodged in her back.

It appeared her attackers had gained entry through the roof as the room was locked from the inside when police eventually arrived.

Two weeks ago, police arrested 18-year-old Luthando Silwana, 23-year-old Lunga Khimbili, and 21-year-old Zukile Danti.

Two fellow pupils, Siwaphiwe Maboleka and Philasande Kinase, both 21, were arrested a week later.

Mdleleni-Mzimane’s husband, Yandisa Mzimane, his family, friends and her colleagues jostled for space in a packed courtroom.

Senior state prosecutor Thembisa Ntloko opposed bail.

She told the court that all five accused had “planned” to commit the schedule six offence. If convicted, they could spend between 15 years to life behind bars.

“The state also relies on the principle of common purpose. The one who killed will be found guilty as well as the ones who were keeping guard outside because they were also involved through their minds,” said Ntloko.

They were not asked to plead and magistrate Zandile Mbilase postponed the matter to November 23 pending investigations.

Although sign language interpreter Nomthandazo Kleinbooi relayed charges to the accused, DeafSA has raised concerns about the fairness of the case.

In an interview with the Dispatch, Deaf SA provincial chairwoman Hilda Mbeta said while the organisation was “disappointed and heartbroken” over the pupils’ arrests, they would approach the court to ensure there was a “relay” interpreter between the suspects and Kleinbooi.

“There must be a relay interpreter so that they can be able to understand the dialect,” said Mbeta.

NPA spokesman Luxolo Tyali said they wanted a fair trial for justice to be done.

Yandisa declined to be interviewed. His younger brother Babini said: “There is more to this. May be as time goes on, we will get answers.”

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