The family of lesbian murder victim Nonkie Smous can finally begin the difficult journey of coming to terms with her horrific killing.
Activists in Kroonstad say that police have confirmed that the burnt out body discovered in the township of Maokeng on April 4 was that of Smous.
Because the body could not be visually identified, the young woman’s family were left in limbo for more than four weeks awaiting the outcome of DNA tests. They were also not able to bury her until these were completed.
It is believed that Smous was raped and murdered before being set on fire. Three men were reportedly arrested in connection with the murder, with two subsequently released. One was charged with robbery and is now also no longer in custody.
Smous’ funeral is set to take place on Saturday 13 May at the Seeisoville Community Hall from 8am till 10am. She will be buried in Wespark Cemetery. There will also be daily prayer services at her family home throughout this week.
“Most of us are relieved that the DNA results are out,” local LGBTI activist Nthabiseng Mokanyane, from Free State Action for Social Justice, told Mambaonline. “Now we can put her to rest and we can give her the dignified funeral that she deserves. It’s a form of closure for us and the family.”
She added that activists hope that the DNA test results and other outstanding forensic evidence will lead the authorities to press murder charges against the suspects.
“We have no choice but to trust that the SAPs will find the necessary evidence so that those who did this to Nonkie will get what they deserve,” Mokanyane added.
Smous was a welder who was openly lesbian and had been accepted as such by her family since she was a child. Thabiso Mogapi wa Tsotetsi, Chairperson of Action For Social Justice International, said that her murder not only represented the loss to the country of yet another LGBTI person but also that of a talented and skilled individual.
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.