Activists in Kwazulu Natal are up in arms over the granting of a paltry R1,100 bail to each of the two men accused of brutally murdering a gay woman.

According to the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community Centre (DLGCC), the men – suspected of killing Thokozane Qwabe three years ago – were released on bail last week because the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence or reason to keep them in jail.

The organisation claims that this was despite the fact that the suspects are known to be “hooligans” and that a number of other women who had allegedly been previous victims of the men – but have been too afraid to lay charges against them – were in court.

“Some of the women broke down in tears. They said they felt silenced by the court’s decision and quite discouraged to report their own cases,” said Nomcebo Thungo, reporting from the court.

Activists’ anger at the news reflects long-standing frustration with the South African justice system in which cases, especially those associated with hate crimes, are continually delayed and drag out for years.

“We… call upon community members to come forward with any and every information direct or relevant to this case. Let us bring the perpetrators to book and make the streets of eZakheni and Ladysmith safer for women, children and men again,” said the DLGCC.

The organisation added that it would be meeting with Qwabe’s family, local leaders and members of the community to discuss the matter and the ongoing trial.

Twenty three year old Qwabe’s body was found naked in a field in a Ladysmith township in July 2007. It has been claimed that she was raped and killed because she was a lesbian.

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