Yesterday, in the Randburg High Court Judge Mohammed Ismail found former ANCYL official Patrick Wisani guilty of murdering his girlfriend Nosipho Mandleleni by beating her to death with a sjambok and a broomstick on the night of Saturday 5th of September, 2015. Wisani was also found guilty of assaulting Nosipho’s twin sister Siphokazi and a friend of hers in an attempt to deter them from giving evidence. In addition, he was found guilty of intimidating witnesses in the case. Sentencing will take place on Monday, 28th of November also at the Randburg High Court.
At the time of the murder Patrick Wisani was ANC Youth League Chairperson for the Johannesburg Inner City and had also been a member of the Yeoville community policing forum. According to statements made to the media by friends of the couple, Wisani had previously assaulted Mandleleni who, according to the Star, “had tried to lay assault charges against Wisani in the past”. Other media reported that he had also assaulted another woman at a bar so brutally that she ended up in a coma, although charges in that case were dropped until the victim came forward as a result of the publicity generated by the murder case.
Throughout the 14-month trial a coalition of civil society organisations comprised of Sonke Gender Justice, Awethu!, Peace and Justice, Lawyers for Human Rights, People Opposing Women Abuse, and the Inner City Women’s Forum, monitored the case closely to make sure that Wisani was indeed held to account and that Nosipho Mandleleni and her family received some measure of justice.
We welcome the court ruling and hope that it sends a clear deterrent message that violence against women will not be tolerated, no matter who the perpetrator is and no matter what their connections to police and government officials. We reiterate our condolences to Nosiphho’s family for whom a guilty sentence is little consolation for their loss.
However, without the active monitoring of the case by civil society organisations and community members, it is uncertain whether this verdict would have been handed down at all.
Judge Louw, initially appointed to preside over the case, proved himself wholly incapable of the task at hand. He was often unable to remember the basic facts of the case, often referring to the accused as the defendant. Only when the defence attorney and the prosecutor both threatened to petition the judge to recuse himself did Judge Louw step down.
We welcome and acknowledge the very different tone set in the court by Judge Mohammed Ismail who took the case seriously and applied his mind throughout.
Sonke has long held that public figures influence social norms and so shape our values and priorities. For this reason, Sonke has consistently held public figures accountable when they violate women’s rights or use, promote or condone violence. Wisani’s conviction demonstrates that concerted community action can expedite justice for survivors of violence and the families struggling with grief in the wake of domestic and sexual violence homicide.
Patrick Wisani is one of tens of thousands of men who have perpetrated violence against women in South Africa in the last year. To deal with this crisis of violence will require a concerted effort by government at all levels to address the causes of domestic and sexual violence. For this reason, Sonke has been calling on government to develop and implement a fully costed national plan that provides vital services to survivors, holds perpetrators to account and prevents violence before it happens.
Only when South Africa makes this commitment to ending violence will we begin to make progress in achieving our constitutional imperative of ensuring everyone’s physical integrity and