Zolile Khumalo murder-accused flips middle finger in court


MUT student Zolile Khumalo was shot dead at a residence on Tuesday.

DURBAN – The man accused of fatally shooting his former girlfriend, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) student Zolile Khumalo, casually flipped his middle finger at journalists in court on Thursday.

This was Thabani Mzolo’s third appearance at the Durban Regional Court, where he is trying to apply for bail. Before magistrate Mohammed Motala had left the courtroom, Mzolo turned to journalists who were taking images of him on their cellphones and extended his finger. This elicited a reprimand from Motala.

Earlier, the court heard that Mzolo had allegedly shot Khumalo twice and then kicked her as she lay on the floor of her residence room.

Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi, who attended proceedings said afterwards that the gesture made him “very angry”.

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“It shows us that this dog doesn’t have any remorse. By virtue of showing the people of the Republic of South Africa the middle finger, it tells all of us that he is prepared to kill again and he doesn’t respect anyone, because he is in a court of law," said Mkongi.

"He is still (in) the dock and then he is showing the magistrate a middle finger, and he is showing all of us, even the police, a middle finger.”

Mzolo is facing a schedule six offence, which demands that bail only be granted in exceptional circumstances. At his appearance last week, the court heard that Mzolo had a previous assault conviction.

His address still remains in dispute, leading to Thursday’s postponement for a formal bail application to June.

Clad in a two-toned jacket and blue jeans, the 23-year old cut an initially subdued but somewhat cocky figure as he took to the dock.

At his first appearance, Mzolo garnered the wrath of students and community members for consistently grinning for photographers and appearing to make a trigger sign when leaving the courtroom, which was captured by journalists. 

READ: MUT female student killed at res

Thursday again saw a strong police contingent in and outside the courthouse and courtroom as a significantly smaller group of students than in previous weeks gathered to show support for their slain peer.

Mzolo is alleged to have gained access to the MUT off-campus Lonsdale residence in the first week of May, making his way to the first-year quantity-surveying student’s room and fatally shooting her with an unlicensed firearm. He then appeared to confess to the crime through a series of social media posts.

Khumalo’s funeral took place in her hometown of eShowe on Saturday.

The university came under severe criticism following Khumalo’s killing, with the student body questioning security measures at several of its off-campus residences. MUT has since said it will be erecting metal detectors at the residences.

Deputy minister Mkongi conducted a walkabout at the Lonsdale residence with Khumalo’s family members after Thursday’s proceedings.

Mzolo will appear again on 19 June for a formal bail application.