How Race Factors Into the Pistorius and Kutumela Murder Trials in South Africa

For South Africans, the Oscar Pistorius trial, which resumed this week, is serving as a national referendum on race. The killing of a beautiful woman at the hands of one of the country’s most famous sons has made for compelling television. Away from the cameras in the courtroom next door, however, the family of Zanele Khumalo, murdered by Thato Kutumela (sentenced to 31 years in prison last week), has held a stoic and lonely vigil.

Zanele was 18 when her boyfriend Thato entered her home, raped and killed her, and then covered her body with a sheet to make it appear that she was sleeping. She had been dead for six hours by the time her parents found her. Still, they rushed her to hospital, hoping that she might come back.

Local media have been quick to point out the differences between the two cases. The glamorous white woman’s death has received global media attention, while the murder of the pretty black woman — also a model — from a more modest, but still middle class, home has only been covered by coincidence: her murderer’s case happens to have run parallel to that of Reeva Steenkamp’s famous killer.

Many believe that justice…

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