Judge Johan Kruger dismissed Thato Kutumela’s application for his discharge on charges of raping, murdering and robbing his girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo, 18, at her parents’ townhouse in Garsfontein in April 2011.
Khumalo was five months pregnant with Kutumela’s child at the time of her death. According to medical evidence, she was strangled to death by someone who used their hands.
The teenager was discovered naked under a blanket on her bed when her parents, Busi and Temba Khumalo, returned home from work.
Kutumela was only arrested in connection with her alleged murder about eight months after her death.
He initially claimed he had been at work all day and had never been anywhere near his girlfriend’s home, but he later admitted he had been to her house that morning and had had consensual sex with her, but denied murdering her.
Judge Kruger said there was no sign of forced entry at Khumalo’s house, which had high walls and locked gates. The prima facie evidence placed Kutumela in the vicinity of her house between 8.31 and 10.33 that morning and the medical evidence put the time of her death between 10 and 11 that morning. There was no evidence of anyone else being in Khumalo’s house that morning.
The judge said the overall picture established a prima facie case and placed Kutumala at the house at the crucial time, which called for a response.
He also questioned the fact that Kutumela had changed his version from total denial that he was there at all to a later admission that he had been at his girlfriend’s house.
Kutumela elected not to testify despite the court’s findings.
Legal argument in the trial will be presented tomorrow.