Murdered: 23-year-old Thapelo Makhutle

While initial reports claimed that a 23-year-old man in Kuruman had been beheaded in the early hours of Saturday due to his sexuality, police said in a statement that his head was not separated from his body but that his throat was cut.

According to the Mothibistad police, Thapelo Makhutle’s body was found lying on the floor of his rented room. It is alleged that the victim has been out with his friends that night. He left unannounced and his friends assumed that he had gone home to sleep.

Shaine Griqua, Director of Legbo Northern Cape, who first reported the attack, said that confusion around the state of the body likely stems from miscommunication due to most people in the area not speaking English as a first language.

Griqua believes that the attack was a hate crime and said that he has information that Makhutle was killed as a result of an argument about his sexuality and gender appearance, but police have yet to confirm this, saying that the motive is as yet unknown.

He told Mambaonline that the police in the area are ill-equipped to deal appropriately with a hate crime.

“These people [the police] are not reliable. They don’t even know what a hate crime is. If you ask them if it was related to his sexuality they will say ‘no’ because they don’t understand the context,” Griqua insisted.

He said that he would be meeting with Makhutle’s family on Wednesday and that he intended, with their permission, to view the body.

Makhutle was an active member of the Northern Cape LGBT community. He was also known as Queen Bling and was recently crowned Miss Gay Kuruman.

Griqua, who knew the victim well, said that Makhutle identified as gay but had recently also referred to himself as being transgender.

Anyone who has information about Makhutle’s murder has been asked to contact the Mothibistad police on 053 773 1469 or to contact Detective Constable Masite on 083 717 8314.

• Please see the latest update on the murder here.

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