Twenty-four-year-old Thapelo Makhutle, who was brutally mutilated and murdered in Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, allegedly over his sexuality and gender identity, was laid to rest on the weekend.
At a memorial service on Friday at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Kuruman, activists, friends and family spoke about Makhutle, his life and what he meant to them.
“I’ve never lost a friend to death, and we should not have to at this age of 24. Especially not someone as special at [Thapelo], who was my age. He shared the same birthday as me – 23rd February 1988…” said Tsepo Kgatlhane, a close friend of Makhutle, before breaking down in tears.
“I know what a big loss it is for the community to have lost a life like Thapelo’s” said Charmaine van den Heever, from the NC NGO Coalition, “and in the past week I also realised that Thapelo died too brutally…”
Makhutle’s throat was slit in the early hours of Saturday 9 June in his rented room after he had been out with friends. Police confirmed last week that his attackers cut off his genitals and stuffed them into his mouth.
There are unconfirmed reports that he earlier had an argument with two men over his sexuality and gender identity.
On Saturday, hundreds of friends, family and members of the community gathered in the Bendelle Village for a funeral service to say a final goodbye to Makhutle, who was also known as ‘Queen Bling’ and ‘ThaBling’ and had been recently crowned Miss Gay Kuruman.
They wept, sang songs of mourning and laid flowers at Makhutle’s grave.
Despite demands for urgent action by local and international human rights activists, Colonel Bosman from the Kuruman Police told Mambaonline on Tuesday there are still no suspects in the murder.
The funeral and the earlier memorial service were filmed by Zanele Muholi and Justin Davy. Watch video clips of the two events below.