A court in South Africa has convicted photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa of the 2013 murder of Nokuphila Kumalo, 23, a sex worker, in a suburb of Cape Town, several South African newspapers have reported. Bail for Mthethwa, a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology who is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, was revoked while he awaits sentencing.
Mthethwa, who lives in Cape Town, was arrested and charged with the murder in August 2013. The indictment stated that he had killed Kumalo “by repeatedly kicking her and stomping her body with booted feet.” During the trial, police showed CCTV footage from the scene and testified it showed Mthethwa getting out his car to attack Kumalo on a sidewalk. Mthethwa’s attorneys questioned the validity of the footage, but Judge Patricia Goliath stated in her ruling today that the CCTV footage provided a “silent witness.”
The trial was delayed multiple times over the past four years. Members of Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce, an advocacy group for sex workers, rallied outside the courthouse throughout the trial. In November, the group also protested the inclusion of Mthethwa’s photos in an exhibition at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town.
Mthethwa uses environmental portraiture, often taken in quiet domestic settings, to explore the life of migrants, farmers and miners in post-apartheid South Africa. In 2010, Aperture published his self-titled monograph. He told PDN that in photographing marginalized South Africans in their homes, “I really wanted to empower the people.” He has had over 35 solo exhibitions internationally and was included in the 2005 Venice Biennale. His work is in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and many other institutions worldwide. Contacted by PDN, Jack Shainman Gallery had no comment on Mthethwa’s conviction.
Fine Art Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa Faces Murder Trial
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