No more smiles for ‘killer’ of Durban varsity student Zolile Khumalo

Hundreds of students, politicians and gender activists made their way to the Durban Magistrate's Court on Thursday in support of slain Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) student Zolile Khumalo, who was gunned down allegedly by her jilted boyfriend last week

Under heavy police guard, the peaceful march weaved its way from the Lonsdale residence in South Beach, the scene of the crime, to the courthouse, with participants singing songs and displaying placards denouncing the murder.

Inside Court Room 10, accused Thabani Mzolo, a 23-year-old former MUT student, stood in the dock, clean cut and groomed, in a well-fitted baby blue suit, with a white, open collar shirt and formal men’s slippers.

In the front row of the gallery sat KwaZulu-Natal SAPS Acting Commissioner Major-General Bheki Langa, as well as Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi.

It was apparent that a week at KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville prison had taken its toll and the reality of his situation had dawned on Mzolo, who did not smile, as he had repeatedly done at his first appearance.

He is accused of killing 21-year-old Khumalo, a first-year quantity surveying student, inside her residence room on 1 May and then, through a series of social media posts, is believed to have confessed.

READ MORE: Court hears murder-accused has previous assault conviction

Magistrate Mohamed Motala postponed the matter until 17 May for bail application and told Mzolo’s attorney, Charl Classen, that before any application would be considered, Mzolo’s address must be verified.

“The first difficulty you will have is his address. His Umhlanga and Estcourt addresses [provided to the investigating officer] proved to be a negative,” said Motala.

State Prosecutor Khanyi Gcwabaza said while Mzolo’s grandmother lived at the Estcourt address, she confirmed that her grandson only popped in periodically and had no assets at her home.

Mzolo is facing a Schedule 6 offence, which demands that bail can only be granted in “exceptional circumstances”.

The university held a day of mourning on Thursday, with all lectures suspended for the day.

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The marchers were joined by Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women Bathabile Dlamini. She told the waiting media that “no women must be killed because she says ‘no’”.

“A woman has the right to say ‘no’. We call on all organisations and various sectors to buy into the fight against women and children. We also call on the legislature to focus on the issue of a minimum sentence as well as how these cases are run.

“They depend on the conscience of whoever is presiding over the case. All cases against woman and children must be handled with respect,” said Dlamini.

Deputy Police Minister Mkongi said the firearm used in the killing was found to have had its serial number filed off.

“We are going to be sure we have a watertight case. We are investigating whether that firearm has been used in any other crimes, such as political or taxi-related killings in KZN,” said Mkongi.

READ MORE: Facebook murder: Zolile Khumalo murder-accused smiles in the dock

He said the origin of the “big guns”, which looked like a type of semi-automatic rifle Mzolo was seen holding on social media posts, was unknown.

He further stated that the family of Khumalo are being regularly briefed on the case.

– African News Agency