Noluvo Swelindawo (Facebook)
As South Africa marks 16 Days of Activism, another lesbian woman has been brutally murdered in the Western Cape.
The body of 22-year-old Noluvo Swelindawo, known as Vovo, was found dumped next to the N2 highway near Khayelitsha on Sunday.
The Cape Times reported that on Saturday night, neighbours were awoken by Swelindawo’s partner, Nqabisa Mkatali, pleading for help.
She told them Swelindawo had been abducted from her home, which had its windows broken and the door kicked in. Swelindawo’s family and neighbours embarked on a desperate search for her throughout the night until they were told that her body had been found.
There are also reports that Swelindawo was assaulted on Friday and was left with a black eye; a matter which she did not want to discuss. It is not known if that assault is connected to her subsequent abduction and murder.
“This child used to be with us and she did not have a problem with anyone. She was loved in this community,” Lizo Nondaka, a neighbour, told the newspaper. “I cannot recall anyone from this community saying they had a problem with Vovo.”
There have thus far been no arrests.
The murder was committed during the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children (25 November to 10 December); a campaign often criticised for having little real impact.
It also follows the release last week by the Love Not Hate campaign of a disturbing new report on discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT people in South Africa.
It found that 44% of those surveyed had experienced discrimination in the past two years. Of those, 7% had been hit kicked or punched and 6% had been sexually abused or raped.
Shockingly, 41% of those surveyed revealed that they knew of someone who had been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a statement, Triangle Project said that it was “shocked, angry and deeply saddened” by Swelindawo’s murder and mourned “a beautiful life lost so senselessly”.
“This has to end. We scream out that these crimes are out of control. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities will not remain silent and neither will we live in the shadows because some feel they have the right to inflict their prejudice in these ways,” said the organisation.
Speaking to 702, Free Gender’s Funeka Soldaat commented that it was problematic that hate crime attacks against lesbian women are often seen as “lesbian issues, not community issues…”
Last month, the government published a draft Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill for public comment. If passed, it will allow judges to include hatred against groups or communities as an aggravating factor in the sentencing of perpetrators of hate crimes.