Tuesday 17 September 2019

Cleaner in court over murder of Irish charity worker in South Africa

Victim: John Curran was found murdered in his flat in Cape Town. Photo: Irish Primary Principals' Network/PA Wire
Victim: John Curran was found murdered in his flat in Cape Town. Photo: Irish Primary Principals' Network/PA Wire

Jamie Pyatt

A man charged with the murder of Irish charity worker John Curran in South Africa has appeared in court dressed in boxer shorts.

Congolese-born cleaner Mitspa Mzakombo Onyoka (24) was arrested by police at his workplace in Cape Town last Friday after a tip-off.

Prosecutor Adiel Jansen said Mr Onyoka had been charged by police with the murder of Mr Curran (60) as well as aggravated robbery.

Since his arrest, he had been kept in a holding cell at Cape Town Police Station and was dressed for court in just a pair of blue and white boxer shorts, flip flops and a T-shirt.

He was granted the services of a French interpreter and legal aid to seek bail.

Mr Jansen told Cape Town Magistrates Court yesterday that Mr Curran "was very benevolent to Cape Town society".

"He was found murdered in his flat and quite a number of items were taken," he said.

He requested permission from magistrate Greg Jacobs for the police to take blood samples from Mr Onyoka as part of the on-going investigation.

Mr Jansen said that the police were also seeking information through diplomatic channels from police in the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding any previous convictions.

"This is a very serious charge and he should appeal for legal aid and it is in his best interests if he needs help to make a bail application," Mr Jacobs said.

Mr Jacobs remanded him in custody for seven days until December 3 at Cape Town Police Station holding cells and Mr Onyoka was then led away by court custody officers.

Mr Curran had spent two years working in Cape Town as the director of education for Mellon Educate.

He had been enjoying a holiday before flying home to Dublin when he was found killed in his apartment.

He had suffered multiple stab wounds.

Mr Curran was principal of the Good Shepherd National School in Churchtown for 15 years, and was a founding member of the Irish Primary Principals Network.

Mellon Educate hired him on a two-year contract to run its Cape Town operation in Western Province, which he did successfully until September.

His proudest achievement was working with 270 volunteers to rebuild and renovate schools in the 400,000-strong Khayelitsha township in Cape Town.

A memorial service was held for him in Dublin last week.

Irish Independent

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