Ndumie Funda with a Justice Ministry official (Pic: Change.org)

Lesbian activists have claimed victory after finally meeting with Justice Ministry officials about the issue of “corrective rape” in Parliament in Cape Town yesterday.

Ndumie Funda, the founder of Luleki Sizwe, and activist Melanie Nathan met with officials, while around 200 people protested outside Parliament against the continued abuses against lesbian women in South Africa.

Funda presented the ministry with a petition, hosted by Change.org and supported by a record-breaking 170,000 signatures from around the world, calling for the classification of corrective rape as a hate crime.

“Corrective” or “curative rape” is described as the rape of lesbian women in the belief that it will “cure” them of their lesbian sexual orientation.

It was hoped that Justice Minister Jeff Radebe would attend the meeting but he apologised through his officials, explaining that he was not able to be there due to an urgent matter.

Instead, Tlali Tlali, Ministerial Spokesperson, and Adv Praise Tsidi Kambula, the ministry’s Chief Director of the Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups, as well as other officials from the Justice Department and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) took part.

Funda emerged from the meeting satisfied that government would finally take action on the issue.

“I would describe it as a victory,” Funda told Mambaonline.com. “I am very happy that they want to come on board and work with us on all the issues and complaints. For the first time in our history we are rejoicing because they have agreed to listen to us.”

The Department of Justice agreed to issue a report on the meeting and to begin a series of monthly meetings with activists to address the issues that came out of the discussion. The first of these has been scheduled for May 3rd.

Protestors outside Parliament (Pic: Change.org)

Funda said that she was “shocked” that the NPA was only able to find one case of correctional rape on its books. She said that she and her colleagues have been “assigned the task of bringing all the cases to the table”.

She added that South African Police Service will be part of the next meeting “as they also need to answer a lot of questions”.

When asked if she was concerned that the government might use endless bureaucratic meetings as a stalling process, she replied: “If they don’t do anything we will hold them accountable, but I was very impressed that they flew all the way from Pretoria to come to the meeting – showing that they are committed to the process.”

The meeting was held just days after the appalling 33rd delay in the five-year-long trial of nine men accused of killing 19 year old lesbian Xoliswa Nkonyana in February 2006.

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