South Africa 17.5.2018 12:01 pm

Durban student murder accused Thabani Mzolo gives middle finger in court

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

The man accused of shooting to death his former girlfriend, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) student Zolile Khumalo, casually lifted his middle finger to 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 capturing images of him on their mobile phones and extended his finger, which elicited a reprimand from Motala.

Before this, the court heard that Mzolo had 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”.

“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 slim, attractive 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.

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, made his way to the first-year quantity-surveying student’s room and shot her to death 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.

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