Gender activists have rallied behind the family of Nosipho Mlandleleni, the 24-year-old slain girlfriend of former ANC Youth League official Patrick Wisani, as his murder trial began yesterday.
Wisani, who appeared briefly in the Randurg Magistrate’s Court, pleaded not guilty to all three charges related to the murder of his girlfriend.
He stands accused of having beaten Mlandleleni to death with a sjambok at their Yeoville home in Johannesburg last year.
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After being granted R3 000 bail, Wisani then allegedly attacked his girlfriend’s twin sister and her friend, who were both key witnesses in the case, in May this year.
He was on the run for 22 days before he handed himself over to police and has been in custody since June.
The case has been marred with delays since its beginning, according to Sonke Gender Justice co-ordinator Nonhlanhla Skosana.
“It has been a very challenging time because the whole process has been dragging. They had to change the investigating officer, then we were not happy with the judge and the prosecutor asked the judge to recuse himself from the case. Now we have a judge who we feel is good and on top of things so we hope that justice will be done,” said Skosana.
The Yeoville Bellevue NO to GBV Coalition, which has been monitoring the case, said that it was encouraged by the state’s decision to appoint a new judge.
“We are particularly encouraged by Judge Mohamed Ismail’s statement in court this week that he has been specifically sent by the Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court, the honourable Dunstan Mlambo, to preside over this case and to see that it is concluded quickly and properly,” it said in a statement.
Maurice Smithers, a co-ordinator for the NO to GBV Coalition, lamented the lack of support from the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) in the case.
This was especially concerning, he said, because both Wisani and Mlandleleni were ANC members.
“It’s extraordinary to us they are not coming out to support this case, particularly because they are supposed to protect the interests of women like they did when they supported Reeva Steenkamp with big cameras and lots of publicity,” said Smithers.
The ANCWL was not available for comment at the time of going to press.