1 of Eudy Simelane’s Killers Was Sentenced to Life. 2 Others Walked Free


After a fit of stops and starts, three men finally went on trial for the anti-gay murder of South African soccer player Eudy Simelane. Their sentences were just handed down. The results are mixed.

Simelane, a tall muscular activist who died in April 2008 at age 31, was stabbed all over her body, including the insides of her upper thighs. One of her murderers, Thato Mpithi, pleaded guilty in February and named three other assailants (before recounting). Two of those men were just acquitted for lack of evidence; it didn’t help that Mpithi refused to testify against them after originally naming them as co-conspirators.

But the third, Themba Mvubu, whose pants were stained with Simelane’s blood, received a life sentence.


So while was he smiling on his way out of the courtroom? On the way out, he told a reporter, “Ach, I’m not sorry at all.”

On the one hand, it’s a victory: Two men are behind bars for the brutal “lesbian cure” killing. One the other, two men who prosecutors say were also involved just walked free. And then there’s the whole issue of the motivation behind the murder. That the men tried to rape Simelane, as a means of “curing” her of homosexuality, before killing her was never established at trial. The judge, meanwhile, didn’t even like using the term “lesbian”; “Is there another word that you can use instead of that one?” he asked prosecutors.

The man who pleaded guilty, Mr. Mpithi, says he killed Simelane in a robbery, not because she was gay. One partner in crime, Johannes Mahlangu (who was acquitted), supposedly raped her because she didn’t have any money to hand over. And then they had to kill her, you see, because they didn’t want to get caught.