Durban - The man accused of stabbing an LGBTQI+ activist 21 times and leaving him for dead with the blade lodged in his eye in an apparent hate crime was found guilty and sentenced this week.
Mvuyisi Noguda, 32, was accused of the murder of 23-year-old Lindokuhle Cele in February last year in what has been described by the community as a hate crime.
Noguda has been on trial in the Durban High Court since last year but on Monday Acting Judge Narini Hiralall found him guilty of murder.
Hiralal sentenced him the following day to 25 years imprisonment for his “hateful” and “savage” attack.
Nombuso, Cele’s aunt who had become a mother to him, said she was relieved that justice was served for her son and they had closure.
“I am grateful to all of the love and support from everyone who has been on this journey with us.
“It has been long but we persevered, some people would have quit, but their love and support sustained us.
“Twenty-five years in prison will not bring my son back but it must serve as a warning.
“A week before he passed, he told me that if he died before achieving his dreams he would fight from the afterlife and that is what he has done.
“To me, he has been fighting with us for justice.
“Lindo was a bubbly, loving and caring soul who brought laughter and warmth wherever he went.
“He was proud to be in the LGBTQI+ community and to all those who feel discriminated against or hated, be Lindo.
“We are all humans, keep pushing, keep fighting for those equality rights.”
During the trial, Noguda pleaded guilty to murdering Cele but defended his actions as he believed the aspiring musician drugged and raped him and he acted out of anger.
But his guilty plea was rejected and Hiralall said during sentencing that the plea was not an indication of remorse, rather the realisation of overwhelming and watertight evidence.
The two were known to each other and Noguda claimed that a friend of his confided in him that while they were all drinking at a party he was drugged and raped on New Year’s Day.
Noguda told the court during cross-examination by state prosecutor Bongikazi Mbokazi because Cele was the only gay male present, he believed Cele was his alleged rapist.
The court heard that a month after the party, on Noguda’s return from purchasing dagga he saw Cele, drew the knife from his pocket, grabbed him by the dreadlocks and repeatedly stabbed Cele out of anger before fleeing.
The post-mortem revealed that 18 of the 21 stab wounds Cele suffered resulted in his death – they penetrated his face, lungs, heart and head.
Hiralall said the defence could not prove the alleged rape, which wasn't reported to the police and that Noguda's testimony was inconsistent and filled with holes.
She added that he was an untrustworthy and evasive witness.
She said the State failed to prove the murder was premeditated and the defence failed to make a compelling argument for a more lenient sentence.
Throughout the trial members of the LGBTQI+ community have rallied at the courthouse in support and solidarity with the family.
Anthony Waldhausen founder and director of the Gay and Lesbian Network said he was grateful that justice was served and their prayers and support would remain with Cele’s family.
“His memory will live on in our hearts.
“We think the sentence was fair and it should dissuade future hate crimes.
“As a community, we will always stand together for a better society but what we are now concerned about are the other murder and rape cases which are dragging on for years. More can and must be done for them.”