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Man appears in court 'in boxers' accused of dad John's murder


CCTV of the suspect

CCTV of the suspect

CCTV of the suspect

The alleged killer of Irish charity worker John Curran, who was brutally stabbed to death in Cape Town, has appeared before magistrates dressed in his boxer shorts after he was charged with murder.

Congolese-born cleaner Mitspa Mzakombo Onyoka (24), who can be seen here in CCTV images released by police after the murder, was arrested on Friday at his place of work, just 8km from the murder scene, following a tip-off.

Prosecutor Adiel Jansen said that bearded Mr Onyoka had been charged by police with the murder of Dublin father-of-four Mr Curran, 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, as he said his English was poor, as well as legal aid to seek bail.

"The man who is the victim here was very benevolent to Cape Town society," Mr Jansen told Cape Town Magistrates' Court yesterday.

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

"[Mr Onyoka] has been charged with murder and aggravated robbery and is currently in custody".

He requested permission from magistrate Greg Jacobs for the police to take blood samples from the accused to match it with DNA as part of the investigation.

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

CCTV images of the suspect were circulated by police after Mr Curran's body was found on November 7.

They show a man seen entering the flats and leaving the night before he was found.

It is understood that the arrested man is the same person captured on CCTV images and it is thought that to enter the complex he may have been "buzzed in".

The magistrate told the accused: "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 Onyoka was remanded in custody at Cape Town Police Station until December 3 and was led away half-dressed by court custody officers.

Murdered Mr Curran had spent two years working in Cape Town as the director of education for the Irish NGO Mellon Educate and had retired in September.

His task was to oversee the building of thousands of homes for underprivileged people and for the refurbishment and building of schools to educate children. He had taken two months off to enjoy a "farewell holiday" in South Africa and had moved into a rented flat in a secure apartment complex on Buitengracht Street.

However, he was found dead on November 7 after a female friend let herself into his flat and found his body on the floor behind the door. Mr Curran was due to fly back to his native Dublin within weeks of his death. He was stabbed multiple times to the head and chest and is thought to have died in the early hours of the morning.

After gaining a degree at Trinity College, he devoted himself to teaching and had been principal of the Good Shepherd National School in Dublin for 15 years.

He was then employed by the Irish Primary Principals' Network (IPNN) until he retired in 2005. However, he continued to work with the IPNN as a consultant until 2016.

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

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


Mellon Educate chief executive Niall Mellon said at the time of his death: "I know our many volunteers and supporters will be very sad to hear this tragic news.

"John was much loved by everyone who met him and especially by the thousands of children he helped during his time with Mellon Educate."

A memorial service for Mr Curran was held in Dublin last Friday.

The month before Mr Curran was murdered, British man Upendra Galegedera (50) was stabbed to death in his upmarket holiday home in the nearby Cape Quarter.

Local man Iryvine Dzitiro (24) is awaiting trial charged with his murder.