There are fears that a young lesbian woman has become the victim of a shocking hate crime, after a burnt out body was discovered in Kroonstad.
According to multiple sources, the charred body was found in the Seeisoville section of the township of Maokeng on Tuesday, just meters from an evangelical church. Smoke had been spotted by residents the night before.
The victim was burned beyond recognition but Mambaonline has been told that an identity document was discovered on the body, indicating that she was 28-year-old Nonki Smous.
According to local LGBT activist Nthabiseng Mokanyane, who is also a relative of Smous, the young woman was openly lesbian in the community.
She said that Smous was last seen by her family on Saturday when she left for a funeral. The family had not heard from her since and had been looking for her.
“She had a lovely personality and was a friendly kind of person,” said Mokanyane. “Everybody knew her. She made people laugh”.
A local police source has unofficially confirmed the discovery of the body. The Maokeng Police Station, however, refused to provide any information on the case as the station commander is out of town. It’s believed that DNA tests will be required to confirm the victim’s identity.
“This thing took us by surprise,” said Mokanyane. “It is not a homophobic area, we always said that it is lesbian and gay friendly, so we are shocked.” She added: “We don’t know what to say or do. We are broken. It is really sad.”
The murder comes just days after the Free State’s LGBTIQ community commemorated Pride with a march and a celebration in Bloemfontein.
A recent hate crime study by OUT LGBT Well-being and the Love Not Hate campaign found that 41% of LGBT people in South Africa know someone who’s been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Late last year, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development released draft legislation to formalise hate crimes as a distinct form of crime. The bill remains under consideration.