November 11th, 2014

Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa’s Murder Trial Delayed Again

The trial of photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa, who has been charged with the 2013 murder of an alleged sex worker in a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, has been postponed six months because no judge is available, the Daily Maverick newspaper reports. Mthethwa, who is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery and published his first monograph with Aperture, was arrested in May 2013, and accused of beating and kicking to death Nokuphila Kumalo, 23. A trial scheduled for August 2013 was delayed until April of this year then delayed again until November 10. When Mthethwa appeared in court, however, no judge could be found, so an acting judge set a new trial date of June 1, 2015. Mthethwa remains free on bail.

Outside the courthouse, representatives of  the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce rallied, demanding justice on behalf of the victim, an alleged sex worker. Times Live, a South African news site, reported that Kumalo’s mother was in the courtroom on Monday.

Mthethwa, a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, has been exhibited internationally. His work was shown at the 2005 Venice Biennale and he had a solo show at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2010.  The murder indictment alleges that Mthethwa “attacked [Kumalo] by repeatedly kicking her and stomping her body with booted feet.” The Sunday Times of South Africa reported the prosecution planned to show closed-circuit television footage of Mthethwa’s car at the scene of the murder.

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August 23rd, 2013

Fine-Art Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa Faces Murder Trial August 26

© Aperture/photo by Zwelethu Mthethwa

© Aperture/photo by Zwelethu Mthethwa

Zwelethu Mthethwa, the South African fine-art photographer, will go on trial on Monday, charged with murdering a woman on a street in a suburb of Cape Town, according to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Mthethwa was arrested May 5, accused of beating and kicking Noku­phila Kumalo to death. Die Burger, an Afrikaans-language newspaper, reported in June that a man identified as Mthethwa had been caught on closed circuit television on April 13 getting out of his car and repeatedly hitting Kumalo, then kicking her after she fell to the ground.

Mthethwa has denied the charge. He was released on bail following his arrest.

When contacted by PDN, Mthethwa’s US dealer, Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, would not comment on the case.

In an interview with a South African paper in June, Mark Read, director of the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg, which represents Mthethwa, said that when he spoke to the artist, he “was keen to say that it will all be sorted out.”

A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology and the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Mthethwa has widely exhibited his portraits of black residents of South Africa, including migrant workers, miners and cane farmers. His work was included in the 2005 Venice Biennale, and his first monograph was published by Aperture in 2010, the year a solo exhibition of his work was shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. In a 2010 interview with PDN, Mthethwa said that in photographing marginalized South Africans in their homes, “I really wanted to empower the people.”

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