A lesbian activist was raped and brutally murdered in the early hours of Sunday morning over the Easter weekend in Kwa-Thema township, outside of Johannesburg.
In a statement, the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) announced that the body of one of its members, 24 year old Noxola Nogwaza, was found in an alleyway on April 24th.
“Noxola’s head was completely deformed, her eyes out of the sockets, her brain spilt, teeth scattered all around and face crushed beyond recognition,” said the organisation.
According to witnesses, she had also been stabbed with glass. An empty beer bottle and a used condom were found near her genitals. A large pavement brick, that is believed to have been used to crush her head, was found by her side.
EPOC and the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) condemned the murder and noted that Nogwaza was raped and killed in a similar manner as Eudy Simelane, another member of EPOC, almost three years ago.
Simelane’s body was found in an open field in Kwa-Thema in April 2008. Last year, a gay man in the same township was reportedly attacked by eight men, who attempted to rape him while threatening to kill gay people in the area.
“It is very clear that these rapists are on a mission. We will however not rest until justice prevails,” said Ntsupe, Chairperson of EPOC, who described Nogwaza’s murder as “definitely a hate crime.”
Ntsupe added: “It is the responsibility of the South African Government to protect all its citizens. Hate crimes against LGBT people in this country are on the rise and the government should come out openly against these actions. As a regional advocacy organisation, CAL will work with EPOC and others to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.”
EPOC and CAL called on the Tsakane Police Station, where the case has been reported, to carry out a quick and thorough investigation into the murder of Nogwaza and deal with the perpetrators accordingly.
Nogwaza will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Kwa-Thema on Saturday, April 30.
South Africa has been plagued by a spate of murders and rapes of lesbian women. Activists have warned that hate crimes and the “corrective rapes” of lesbians in South Africa are reaching crisis proportions.
According to Luleki Sizwe, an organisation lobbying to have hate crimes recognised under South African law, around 500 women a year report being the victims of corrective rape while over 30 lesbian women have been murdered because of their sexuality since 1998.
Of these cases, only a handful have ever made it to the courts. Trials have been characterised by incompetence and protracted delays.