Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu has claimed that the murder of lesbian woman Noluvo Swelindawo (Vovo) was unrelated to her sexuality.
“It had nothing to do with that,” Sotyu said at a public meeting in Belhar, reported News24.
She made the statement after visiting the 22-year-old victim’s family and partner, Nqabisa Mkatali, in Driftsands on Wednesday.
According to the Cape Times, the deputy minister claimed that Swelindawo’s murder was linked to a “conflict” between Mkatali and a perpetrator.
Sotyu said there had earlier been an argument between Mkatali and the perpetrator at a tavern over a bottle of beer. The fight escalated to include Mkatali’s family and the perpetrator’s friends, she said. It’s not clear how Swelindawo then became the target.
Signice Mdani, 24, has been charged with house breaking, intent to assault, kidnapping and Swelindawo’s murder.
It’s alleged that he was one of a group of men who broke into the young woman’s home in Driftsands near Khayelitsha at night and abducted her. It was a frantic Mkatali who alerted neighbours that her partner had been kidnapped.
Swelindawo’s body was found the next day dumped alongside the N2 highway with a gunshot wound.
Sotyu admitted that Mkatali had been given neither counselling nor protection, despite her cousin being asked at gunpoint where she could be found. The deputy minister said that support and security was now being provided to Mkatali.
Triangle Project, which has been monitoring and investigating the case, said it was “concerned about the speculation and statement made by the deputy minister of police regarding the murder of Noluvo Swelindawo”.
In a statement, the organisation did not dispute that there was an argument the evening before the abduction. Triangle said, however, that there is much more that is yet to come to light.
“We would like to remind all and place on record that the investigation into the murder is still in its very early stages. Statements from the friends of Vovo who were with her on the evening and were witness to some of what took place before she was taken away have not had their statements taken yet.
“It is also worth considering that the LGBTI people from Driftsands do feel unsafe and are in fact frightened since the death of Vovo,” Triangle added.
Meanwhile, a fundraising initiative to pay for 15 members of the Driftsands Sikhumbule Safe Space Group, of which Swelindawo was an active member, to travel to the Eastern Cape to attend her funeral has been a success, with more than R12,000 raised in a day and a half.
Zuko Mnukwa, Chairman of Sikhumbule Safe Space, thanked the LGBTI community for its support. “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those organisations and individuals who found it in their hearts to donate money towards our transportation to #NoluvoSwelindawo’s hometown to pay our last respect and be with her till the end.
“You truly did a wonderful thing. Your generosity will forever be cherished. May you be blessed in abundance. To the people of South Africa and the international community, we feel the love and it’s keeping us strong. Thank you,” Mnukwa said.
Mdani’s bail application will resume in court on 21 December. It’s believed that police are searching for other suspects in Swelindawo’s attack.