Pistorius' ex-girlfriend testifies in trial
Former girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius testifies at his murder trial, saying he always carried a firearm and that their relationship ended when he cheated on her with Reeva Steenkamp.PT1M11S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-34exm 620 349 March 9, 2014
The courtrooms are identical; metres apart. The crime alleged is the same. But the cases of Oscar Pistorius and Thato Kutumela are world’s apart.
The ground floor of Pretoria’s High Court building is a hard, ugly, concrete affair, with sparse wooden seating for those forced to wait outside.
Last Monday, the passage way outside courtrooms GC and GD were packed with TV cameras, still photographers, journalists, security, police and curious onlookers. Lawyers, court clerks, even some cleaners, all stopped to watch as one of the world’s most recognisable athletes was bundled into the stark surrounds.
World watches: Oscar Pistorius sits in court in Pretoria before his trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Photo: Reuters
The murder trial of Pistorius, accused of murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is the biggest thing to ever reach the North Gauteng High Court.
They were South Africa’s glamour couple; wealthy, successful and admired by millions.
Then on Valentine’s Day, 2013, Pistorius shot and killed her in what he says was a tragic accident. But police say it was a deliberate homicide – and the stage was set for a courtroom showdown like no other.
On Madiba Street outside, satellite trucks have been setting up camp for days; and they’ll be there for weeks.
But just metres from the door where identification tags are checked to ensure only sanctioned individuals can observe Pistorius at close range, is another courtroom.
Behind the door to GC this week was another man facing a murder charge. Also for the death of his young, model girlfriend.
But this pair had not graced any catwalks, nor achieved any incredible feats.
And only their families turned up in anticipation.
Zanele Khumalo, 18, was found strangled to death in her parents home in Pretoria on April 21, 2011.
She was five months pregnant at the time of her death, and her body was discovered under a blanket when her parents returned home from work.
Her boyfriend, Kutumela, denied he had killed her. He claimed instead the pair had engaged in consensual sex that April morning, and that Zanele was alive and well when he left her.
But late last year, Acting Judge Johan Kruger rejected the 26-year-old’s protestations of innocence.
He found him guilty of raping Zanele before murdering her – stealing her clothes and underwear to hide what he had done.
''The scenario is one of vicious and cold-blooded attack on the deceased, leaving no doubt that [Kutumela] had forced himself on her, raped her and viciously throttled her,'' he said.
This week, Kutumela faced a mitigation of sentence hearing, watched on by Zanele’s mother Busi Khumalo.
She said her daughter’s case was not so different from the one next door, identifying strongly with what Reeva’s mother June Steenkamp would also be going through.
''I feel her pain,'' Mrs Khumalo told The Sowetan newspaper.
''If I could, I would sit next to her, hold her hand and tell her that I understand. Our pain is so similar.''
She said it was ''not easy to accept'' that a child you left in good health when you went to work had so suddenly been taken away.
''She has left a huge space in our hearts and home,'' she said.
So far, her daughter’s killer has shown no remorse, and continues to insist he did not kill Zanele.
The case has garnered some local press but, sadly, it is one South Africans are so familiar with they are rarely covered in any great depth. In South Africa, 2500 women are murdered each year.
The country was also crudely described as the ''rape capital of the world'' following a 2000 report by the United Nations Office on Crime and Drugs, which ranked South Africa as the highest for rapes per capita in the world.
While there are extremely low reporting rates, it has been estimated half a million women are raped each year – one every 17 seconds – and half of all the nation’s women will be raped sometime in their lifetime.
A survey by an anti-violence NGO, CIET, found 20 per cent of men reported the victim ''asked for it''.
Kutumela returns for a further sentencing hearing at the end of this month.
The Pistorius case is likely to still be going.