LGBTI+ group wants suspect in Bhengu murder to be charged with hate crime too

Thulani Cele (39) is charged with killing 28-year-old Anele Bhengu.

The body of Anele Bhengu was discovered on 13 June 2021 in a ditch near a school in the KwaMakhutha community, south of Durban. Picture: Supplied.

The following story contains sensitive details, which some readers may find disturbing.

UMBUMBULU - LGBTIQ+ activists from KwaZulu-Natal have called on a local court to ensure that a suspect arrested for the murder of Anele Bhengu from KwaMakhutha, south of Durban, was kept behind bars until the conclusion of the legal case against him.

Thulani Cele (39) is charged with killing 28-year-old Bhengu.

He appeared briefly in the Umbumbulu Magistrates Court on Monday where the matter was postponed to next Wednesday for a formal bail hearing.

Bhengu’s body was discovered in a bush near a secondary school last Sunday.

She was fatally stabbed multiple times with her stomach cut open and her throat slit.

Police’s Thembeka Mbele said Cele was caught hiding in the Gcilima village near Port Shepstone after fleeing KwaMakhutha.

“Upon seeing the police officers, the suspect fled from his room into the nearby bushes. The police gave chase and he was caught."

Convener of the LGBTIQ+ community in KwaZulu-Natal, Hlengiwe Buthelezi, said the courts should impose stiff sentences on those who perpetuate violence against non-heterosexuals.

“They should not be granted bail at all. They should be charged for a hate crime, not just murder.”

Bhengu’s family said it was pleased that the State had opposed bail for Cele.

The NPA's Natasha Kara said: “The accused will remain in custody until the bail hearing.”

Bhengu's older sister Busisiwe observed court proceedings closely as one of the few people allowed inside court due to COVID-19 regulations.

“I feel relieved; I spent the whole of last week feeling anxious about how today would turn out. I feel at peace knowing that the court has decided that he must remain in police custody.”

The 28-year-old - who has been described as a fun-loving young person - was laid to rest on Saturday.

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