Activists demanded justice for Millicent Gaika on Saturday

Despite verbal abuse, LGBT activists have staged a gruelling five-hour-long march in Cape Town, demanding justice for a lesbian woman whose brutal rapist remains free – despite being found guilty.

Accompanied by police vehicles, around a 100 people – including local lesbian women, LGBT people from around Cape Town and a group of students – began their walk from outside of Khayelitsha to the Gugulethu police station at 7.30am.

Organised by Free Gender, a local lesbian organisation, the event lasted the same amount of time as the five hour rape, beating and strangulation ordeal experienced by Millicent Gaika in Gugulethu on 3 April, 2010.

She survived, and her attacker Andile Ngcoza (then 43) was arrested and found guilty. However, while out on just R60 bail, he failed to appear in court for sentencing and has not been seen since.

Funeka Soldaat, Coordinator for Free Gender, told Mambaonline that “Millicent is really miserable. She is struggling to come to terms with this. She doesn’t know when this guy’s going to show up again.”

She explained that in addition to highlighting Millicent’s case, the march further aimed to “mobilise for all the victims of hate crimes,” adding that “Langa and Gugulethu, these are the places where most lesbians have been killed.

“The march was a way to say it’s not okay for lesbians or anyone to be killed for their sexuality. It’s also a way to show people that lesbians exist in their community. That it’s not imported from the white people.”

As they walked, the marchers handed out “Wanted Dead or Alive” flyers with a picture of Andile, the case number and contact details of police, to members of the community, urging anyone who has seen him to contact the authorities.

A frustrated Soldaat said that while some passersby expressed support for their cause, they also received condemnation and verbal abuse by others, especially taxi drivers.

“It was a very tense route – they said things like ‘Fuck you. You think you are a man but you are a woman’. It’s going to take time for people to be become more tolerant. It’s a long way for us to make people change their minds.”

Millicent Gaika after her ordeal

The protest concluded with the presentation of a memorandum to the police in Gugulethu.

Soldaat expressed her happiness at the response from the authorities after the station Captain and three other officers accepted the document and urged lesbian women to come forward with their grievances.

“We also gave the police the flyers so that they are aware of what we have been doing. So they can expect people to phone them about Andile,” she said.

While Soldaat had hoped for more people to take part in the march, she said that she was buoyed by the fact that the protestors were a relatively diverse group.

“Usually just black women come to these marches in these areas but there were some white women and coloured students from the university,” she said.

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