Limpopo’s Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has welcomed a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to convert a charge of theft against intern doctor Shongile Nkwashu’s alleged murderer into robbery with aggravated circumstances.

The suspect, 25-year-old Ntiyiso Shilumane, appeared in the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

He pleaded not guilty to the counts of rape and robbery and elected not to plead on the murder charge. The matter is expected to resume at the end of February.

Ramathuba says the murder of Shongile is a pure act of gender-based violence.

“We want to welcome the decision by the prosecution to say from theft now the first offence becomes robbery using aggravated forces and harm. Dr. Shongi was just a beautiful little girl and here you are having a man using his power. That is why we are saying this is pure gender-based violence.”

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