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Alleged killer’s suicide “not justice”


Former city rugby player Siyanda Gxwati, who was accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Refilwe “Fifi” Letebele, committed suicide on the weekend.

Norman Letebele

THE FATHER of Refilwe “Fifi” Letebele said yesterday that the suicide of his daughter’s alleged killer does not serve as justice in the matter.

Norman Letebele said that it is unfortunate that his daughter’s alleged killer took his life just a few days before he was to be prosecuted for the crime.

Refilwe, who was 28 at the time, died after she was stabbed several times and had her throat slit at her parental home in Barkly Road, Kimberley, on January 12, 2018.

The incident occurred in the presence of her 13-year-old cousin.

Refilwe “Fifi” Letebele

Refilwe’s former boyfriend, Siyanda Gxwati, was standing trial in the Northern Cape High Court after he was charged with her murder.

Gxwati, however, committed suicide by hanging himself inside a garage at his parental home in Bloemfonetin on Sunday night.

His body was discovered by his nephew on Monday, at about 3:10pm.

Siyanda Gxwati. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Letebele said the family now has to leave the matter of justice in the past because the accused decided to take his own life.

“The court case was supposed to continue next week Monday, but the accused has decided to give himself the death sentence. We were on the verge of receiving justice for my daughter, whom the accused brutally killed. It is unfortunate that he could not face the law for his brutal actions. This has been a very long journey for the three years this case has been continuing. We were at the end and he (Gxwati) decided to take such actions,” said Letebele.

He added that he has mixed feelings on the matter.

“The last time he (Gxwati) appeared in court he still continued to plead not guilty to killing my daughter and he asked for our forgiveness. He never took ownership of his brutal actions. He killed my daughter, who was the apple of my eye. He was double-tongued because he asked for forgiveness yet never admitted guilt.

“There is now no way forward … if there is no accused then there is no case. He took it upon himself to account for this horrendous act. However, we send our condolences to his family during this time. May God grant them the same strength He gave us when we were preparing for the funeral of my daughter.”

Letebele said he will keep being an advocate on gender-based violence (GBV) and called on the justice system to review its laws on the matter.

“It is a pity that the GBV issue has not been able to be dealt with. The law needs to revisit what it states about human rights and the rights of women.

“We cannot have a person who is accused of a rape or murder of a woman or a child roam the streets for months, even years. That sends the wrong message to the perpetrators as well as survivors of gender-based violence.

“We need to treat gender-based violence with urgency. Men should stand up for issues relating to gender-based violence and also have to learn to respect women when they say ‘no’. Men are seen as protectors, but we have very fragile egos. Our fragile ego cannot handle it when a woman says no to us. A simple ‘no’ intimidates us,” said Letebele.

He thanked the organisations and community members who supported his family.

“We want to thank the different churches, the community of Kimberley and civic organisations such as Wanya Tsotsi who supported us during a very dark time in our lives. We did not not see this chapter being closed like this, however, we cling onto the hope that things will get better,” Letebele said.