Pic: Natasha Quinn

Residents of the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality, the location of brutal attacks on lesbian women near Johannesburg, held a LGBTI Pride parade through the streets of the township of KwaThema on Saturday.

Under the theme of “Crush Hate”, almost 200 people took part in the parade which began just before 12 in the afternoon on a warm spring day.

The spirited group, along with a few cars, police vehicles and a small truck decorated in rainbow flags, moved from the Bahamas bar to Ndaba Tree Park, near the Civic Centre.

The participants chanted, sang and danced to music from the truck as they marched. Many held placards with statements such as “a world free of all oppression”, “stop the war on women’s bodies” and “stand together against hate crimes”.

The marchers were often cheered on by onlookers from houses as well as drivers in cars along the route.

The event concluded with celebrations at Ndaba Tree Park with entertainment, speeches, stalls and HIV screening and counselling by OUT.

Pic: Natasha Quinn

One of the event’s organisers, Lindi Mahlangu, told Mambaonline that she was pleased with the day’s proceedings.

“I’m amazed by the response from the KwaThema community. I expected more verbal abuse,” she said.

Dikeledi Sibanda, Programmes Officer at the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), commented, however, that she was disappointed with the turnout.

“We tend to want things to happen and at the end of the day we drop out or expect other people to do it for us,” she said, ” we need people to get involved.”

Ekurhuleni Pride was put on by the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC), which first held the event in 2009 in a bid to highlight hate crime attacks against LGBTI people, particularly lesbians, in the area.

In April, EPOC suffered a loss in its ranks when 24-year-old member and activist Noxolo Nogwaza was brutally murdered in KwaThema. She was stoned and stabbed several times with broken glass, and is also believed to have been raped.

Little more than a week later, the body of 20-year-old lesbian Nokuthula Radebe was discovered by children playing in an abandoned building in Everest Thokoza, also in Ekurhuleni. She had been strangled with one of her shoelaces.

Check out our Ekurhuleni Pride 2011 image gallery.

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