Murder case against five deaf pupils postponed – again

KEEPING WARM: #OutsourcingMustFall activist Vusi Mahlangu at the Mthatha Magistrates Court where he is facing charges of of perjury and defeating the ends of justice Picture LULAMILE FENI
KEEPING WARM: #OutsourcingMustFall activist Vusi Mahlangu at the Mthatha Magistrates Court where he is facing charges of of perjury and defeating the ends of justice Picture LULAMILE FENI
By LULAMILE FENI

The case of five deaf pupils accused of killing their deputy principal was again postponed in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court when there was no sign language interpreter available.

It is the second time the matter has had to stand down due to the unavailability of an interpreter, which angered both the defence and presiding officer.

Defence attorney Buntu Qakumbana said his clients were being prejudiced.

“This is the second time this is happening and I call for the withdrawal of the charges or withdrawal of the case off the roll sheet until the state puts its house in order.

“We cannot continue like this and have a court without an interpreter,” said Qakumbana, who is with Legal Aid SA.

The five Efata pupils – Luthando Silwana, Lunga Kimbili, Zukile Danti, Siwaphiwe Mabolekwa and Philasande Kinase – were arrested in November last year in connection with the fatal stabbing of deputy principal Nodumo Mdleleni-Mzimane inside the school premises in July last year.

She was found lying in a pool of blood with the murder weapon still lodged in her back.

The accused were given bail of R1000 each in February after spending more than three months in custody.

Further delays were caused yesterday when sign language interpreter Asanda Khatshwa failed to turn up.

Qakumbana said that one of the accused travelled from the Western Cape with his mother, only to find that the court could not proceed.

Magistrate Guzana Namba ordered that state prosecutor Zuko Mvulana give reasons why there was no sign language interpreter.

When he could not give reasons, it was ordered that the head of court interpreters explain, but he too was unavailable.

Namba then lashed out at both Mvulana and the interpreting services. “This is a high- profile case and it should have been treated as such. To secure an interpreter is the responsibility of the state. This is wrong and we cannot have such a situation.

“The state and the senior management of the interpreting services have failed to do that. We apologise to the accused and the parents. I agree with Mr Qakumbana that this is the second time we do not have a sign language interpreter.”

The matter was then postponed to August 19 for further investigation.

“But this is the last time we postpone this matter, for whatever reason,” said Namba.

The parents of the accused and family of the deceased said they were disappointed.

“We just want to have the matter finished so that we can have closure,” said the deceased’s sister-in-law, Mandisa Mzamane

lMeanwhile, the case involving #OutsourcingMustFall activist Vusi Mahlangu, who is facing charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice, was postponed to August 22. Mahlangu, the firebrand fighting outsourcing of security jobs at Walter Sisulu University, had claimed that he was kidnapped. — lulamilef@dispatch.co.za

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