Prosecutors have withdrawn the charges against the 12 people arrested at a gay party in Vosloorus, but activists say they will not let the matter rest.

Supporters of the 12 as well as their legal representatives from Webber Wentzel and Section 27 were present at the Vosloorus Magistrate’s Court on Monday. A crowd of approximately 50 people chanted outside the court and delivered letters of protest to the police station.

The 12 were arrested at a private residence in Vosloorus in the early morning after the Joburg Pride celebrations, apparently following complaints about loud music from neighbours. It has been alleged that police used pepper spray and that one of the police officers wielded a knife.

It’s also been claimed that police verbally abused and ridiculed a lesbian saying: “there are no lesbians in Vosloorus and you can now run and call 3rd Degree”, a television show on which she appeared earlier this year discussing police harassment against LGBTI people in the township.

“That the charges – obstruction of justice and attacking a police officer – were dropped is indicative of the lack of evidence for these accusations,” said the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP) and the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) in a joint statement.

“Furthermore, it has become commonplace for people to be arrested and not prosecuted by the police, using arrest itself as a form of intimidation.

“This harassment of lesbian and gay people as well as other marginalised members of communities is not an isolated event,” the groups noted.

The organisations claim that following the Ekurhuleni Pride March last year, eight lesbians reported being attacked by the police for their sexual orientation, a matter still under investigation.

The groups further allege that on the Heritage Day weekend this year, five lesbians and gay men, who asked the police for directions to the Soweto Pride after-party in Kliptown, were held hostage, verbally abused and driven around for hours.

The activists will be holding a public meeting to discuss these events and develop a plan of action at the Love Life Offices at the J Dumani Community Hall in Ext. 14 in Vosloorus on Saturday, 9 October from 12pm.

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