University murder accused says sorry... but denies killing his girlfriend Zolile Khumalo
Philisiwe Khumalo wept silently in the gallery of the Durban high court as the man accused of killing her daughter uttered the words "I'm sorry".
Before concluding his testimony on Monday, murder accused Thabani Mzolo offered his apologies to the family of slain Mangosuthu University of Technology student Zolile Khumalo, saying he never planned for the Khumalo family to mourn.
However, his apology - also tendered to the country - was not tantamount to a confession or a plea of guilty. Mzolo has pleaded not guilty to the crime.
"I wish to ask for forgiveness from the deceased's family, as well as my family. I want to let them know that what happened to the deceased in my presence was never my intention. I never planned to be implicated and I never planned for the Khumalo family and the Mzolo family become enemies," said Mzolo.
Khumalo died on the floor of her room at Lonsdale Residence in May 2018 as a result of gunshot wounds to her head and chest. Mzolo was arrested shortly after her death, while still inside the residence building.
Mzolo previously told the court that he had found Khumalo with a gun in her possession and that after taking it away Khumalo had tried to get it back, resulting in her getting shot.
In his monologue, Mzolo went on to explain how he had hoped that the families would come together in celebration of his relationship with Khumalo. A hope, he said, Khumalo also shared.
"Instead of mourning, I wanted to bring the Khumalo family gifts for umembeso," he said.
Umembeso is a process of gift-giving in traditional Zulu weddings.
Mzolo also set the record straight on how he appeared to be smiling during previous court appearances. In one particular court appearance he was seen holding up trigger signs as he left the dock at the Durban magistrate's court in May 2018.
"I want to make it clear, there were times where I was smiling but it was not that I was being disrespectful. When things don't sit well with me I have taught myself to just smile," he said.
"I want to apologise to the whole of South Africa for that," he added.
Outside the courtroom, the Khumalo family told journalists that it would be very hard to forgive Mzolo because they didn't know whether he was being sincere.
"Accepting his apology will be hard if he does not speak the truth," said Khumalo's mother, Philisiwe.
"We hear him say he is sorry but [his testimony] is full of lies. It's not easy to buy it because everything he says is based on lies.
"You can not make anything good if you are talking lies because he won't be able to get the help he needs. Because when you look at this boy, he needs help," added Mabongi Myeni, Khumalo's older sister.
The matter will resume on Tuesday where the state will continue its cross-examination of Mzolo.
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