As the Oscar Pistorius trial winds to a close, a Special Assignment documentary on Sunday night was a reminder of another South African murder case involving a high-profile man which has consistently failed to win a similar degree of media attention – or outrage. When artist Zwelethu Mthethwa goes to trial in November, will we see crowds, cameras and the ANC Women’s League? Or does nobody care very much when the accused is an artist – and the victim is a sex-worker? By REBECCA DAVIS.
“How does one even begin to tell her story when there isn’t even a photograph to give a face to her name?”
This was the question posed by Special Assignment’s Hazel Friedman, investigating the murder of 23-year-old Nokuphila Kumalo, also known as “Ntombi”. Kumalo was beaten and kicked to death in the Cape Town suburb of Woodstock, in the early hours of 14 April last year.
The man arrested for her murder was South African artist and photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa, whose artworks and photographs have earned him international acclaim and solo exhibitions in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries. He is currently out on R100,000 bail. Until his trial begins, we have no way of knowing the full story that will come to light. But if prosecutors are to be believed, the evidence against Mthethwa is exceptionally damning.
The evidence apparently includes CCTV footage which implicates Mthethwa in the attack, as well as a tracking device in Mthethwa’s car which shows that he drove to Woodstock at the time of the attack. There were also allegedly eye-witnesses.