South Africa Hit By A Wave Of Gay And Trans Hate Murders

South Africa Hit By A Wave Of Gay And Trans Hate Murders
Image: Hate crimes victims Lindokuhle Mapu and Khulekani Gomazi

A wave of brutal murders of gay men and trans women has hit South Africa. The death toll over the last three months has now reached at least ten known individuals.

The latest victims were 23-year-old gay man, Lindokuhle Mapu and 27-year-old trans woman, Khulekani Gomazi.   Police and government officials have been widely criticised for their lack of action in pursuing the murderers and protecting the LGBTQI+ community. 

A coalition of over 30 South African LGBTQI+ groups and allied civil society organisations have demanded action from the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Ronald Lamola.

In a meeting between the coalition and Lamola held on May 5, the Minister acknowledged that the National Task Team, the Rapid Response Team, and the Provincial Task Teams, which are led by the department and are intended to address hate crimes, were dysfunctional. He also confirmed that only R2.4 million ($220,000) of the R26 million ($2.4m) committed to anti-hate crime strategies had been allocated. 

The Coalition has demanded: 

  • the urgent introduction of the much-delayed Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill 
  • that a targeted LGBTQI+ programme be urgently introduced as part of anti-hate crime strategies 
  • that the South African Police Service be held accountable for their lack of engagement in anti-hate crime strategies 
  • the establishment of a European Union/South Africa anti-hate crime task force 

In an effort to build pressure on the government, LGBTIQ+ groups and allies have widely published the names of the gay/trans hate murder victims:

  • Bonang Gaelae, 29, whose throat was slashed in Sebokeng on February 12.
  • Nonhlanhla Kunene, 37, whose body was found half naked in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg on March 5.
  • Sphamandla Khoza, 34, who was beaten, stabbed and had his throat slit on March 29 in Kwamashu, Durban.
  • Nathaniel ‘Spokgoane’ Mbele, who was stabbed in the chest in Tshirela, Vanderbijlpark on April 2.
  • Khulekani Gomazi, 27, who was beaten to death on April 3 in Mpophomeni in KwaZulu-Natal. Gomazi’s body also showed signs of having been dragged by a car.
  • Andile ‘Lulu’ Nthuthela, 41, whose mutilated and burnt body was found on April 10  in KwaNobuhle, Kariega.
  • Lonwabo Jack, a young LGBTIQ+ individual who had just celebrated his 22nd birthday on April 17. His lifeless body was found on a pavement the next day in Nyanga, Cape Town.
  • Lucky Kleinboy Motshabi, 30, whose body was found in a field in the town of Dennilton, Limpopo on April 24. He was naked with stab wounds on his body.
  • Phelokazi Mqathana, 24, who was stabbed to death on the weekend of May 1 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It was reported that a man stabbed her after she rejected his advances.
  • Lindokuhle Mapu, 23, who was stabbed to death in Mfuleni, outside of Cape Town, on May 9.

The Coalition of LGBTIQ+ groups and allies have given the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development until May 31 to respond to their demands.

Robyn Kennedy is Vice President Global Outreach and Partnership of InterPride, the international association of Pride organisers.  

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