It is reported there have been at least eight deaths of queer individuals in South Africa known to the public so far this year.
The lack of statistical data about attacks and murders of people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community in South Africa remains a problem.
In April alone, the country has seen the murders of three members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The killings are believed to have been hate crimes.
The incidents have raised a number of questions, namely whether there is enough policy protection to address these crimes.
The revised draft of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill B9 of 2018, which has already been introduced in the National Assembly for consideration, is still to be implemented.
Finding statistical data about acts of violence suffered by the LGBTQI+ community is proving challenging.
Gauteng provincial police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubela said there was no specific information available.
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“The Minister of Police [Bheki Cele] is the one who releases crime statistics so no there is no information available at one’s disposal,” Makhubela told The Citizen. “Remember we release statistics that relate to crime in general.”
He added that crime incidents were recorded by the police due to their “humanitarian nature” and did not specifically include or exclude minority groups.
A 2016 survey conducted by the Other Foundation revealed that seven out of 10 South Africans felt strongly that homosexual sex and breaking gender dressing norms were simply “wrong” and “disgusting”.
The findings were recorded in a study released in December 2019 by Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA School of Law.
The study also found that more than one in 10 (11%) of 16 to 24 year olds who completed the OUT LGBT wellbeing survey reported having experienced rape or other sexual abuse at school in the past 24 months.
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Johannesburg-based LGBTQIA+ advocacy NGO communications consultant and activist Kellyn Botha agreed it would be difficult to try to find accurate hate crime statistics in South Africa.
“There is very little in terms of hate crimes statistics for LGBTI persons. We know it is common and we know it is violent. However, we simply don’t know how many people every year are killed or assaulted because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“This is because without formal hate crime legislation, police reports cannot easily distinguish hate crimes from other violence. Often a murder case may not even make mention that someone was part of the LGBTI community.
“Furthermore, discrimination by police or other authorities make people scared to report such crimes, meaning many violations go under-reported,” Botha said.
She added that the recent killings were “merely the tip of the iceberg”.
“It is only during periods such as the last few weeks, where we’ve seen reports all across the country of LGBTI people being killed or attacked, that we can get a true sense of the scale of the issue.”
It is reported there have been at least eight deaths believed to be hate crimes of queer individuals in South Africa known to the public so far this year.
“There is not a single LGBTI person who has not had their rights violated in this country to some degree or another. And there is not a single one of us who doesn’t at least personally know someone who was killed or assaulted,” Botha said.
“Anecdotally, the LGBTI community is one of the most brutalised in this country.”
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However, Botha LGBTI activist group Iranti is working with local community organisations on a project which aims to improve the recording and documentation of human rights violations.
“We have created an app on the Google Play store with this name which acts as a sort of form that people can fill in and securely let us know about a violation they have faced. We hope this will contribute in its own way to the serious lack of data out there.
“The lack of statistical data impacts our ability to conduct evidence based advocacy. But through Margins to Mainstream and other projects, we hope to gather evidence to show the public what we already know; that our people are in serious danger.”
Victims of stigma and violence in the LGBTQI+ community often know the perpetrators, Botha added.
“They aren’t just in danger from homophobic and transphobic strangers. Often it will be relatives or known community members who do this in an effort to punish people for their nonconformity.”
Bonang Gaele. Photo: Twitter/@BaddieTitan
Gaele died on her way to hospital after she was stabbed in the neck. It is alleged that Gaele was hit with a brick then stabbed after rejecting advances from a man who approached the 29 year old while she was with her fianceé, a lesbian women.
The incident reportedly occurred on 12 February in Sebokeng, Gauteng. The suspect accused murdering of Gaele has since been arrested and appeared in court. His case has been postponed for a formal bail hearing.
Nonhlanhla Kunene. Photo: Twitter/@Akena_Leina
Kunene’s half-naked body was found near Edendale Primary School in Pietermaritzburg. The incident occurred in March, according to the Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN). The 37 year old was believed to be a lesbian women.
Sphamandla Khoza. Photo: Facebook/Keep the Energy
Khoza’s body was found in a ditch with multiple stab wounds near his home in Ntuzuma, Durban in March.
Thando Mgenge, accused of murdering the 34 year old has since been arrested and appeared in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court. Mgenge is back in court next week for a formal bail application.
Andile ‘Lulu’ Ntuthela. Photo: Facebook/Keep the Energy
Ntuthela’s body was found in gruesome conditions in a shallow grave in KwaNobuhle near Uitenhage in March.
The 40 year old, also known as Lulu, was mutilated and burnt before being buried. His alleged murderer has since appeared in the KwaNobuhle Magistrate’s Court and the case was postponed to 1 June.
Nathaniel Mbele. Photo: Twitter/@BaddieTitan
Mbele, also known as Spokgoane, was found dead on 2 April after being stabbed in the chest in Tshirela near Vanderbijlpark.
His alleged murderer will appear in court on Thursday for a formal bail hearing.
Lonwabo Nolte. Photo: Facebook/Keep the Energy
Jack’s half-naked body was found with stab wounds in Mau-Mau, Nyanga on Sunday, 18 April.
The 22 year old was also allegedly raped in the incident, which reportedly occurred on his birthday. His murder accused is due to appear in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after the suspect was arrested in the Eerste River area on Wednesday.
Buhle Poswa. Photo: Twitter/@imbasa_ekapa
Poswa died at the weekend in Cape Town in another suspected hate crime against the LGBTQI+ community. According to SAQueerLivesMatter activist Kamva Gwana, Poswa’s family has requested details be kept out of the public eye as they grieve their loss at this time.
Anelisa Mnqolo. Photo: Twitter/@imbasa_ekapa
Mnqolo, originally from King Williams Town, Eastern Cape, was allegedly murdered by the father of her eight-month-year old child.
“[She too was] attacked for living in her identity as a queer person in this country,” Gwana said in a statement.