Remembering Duduzile Zozo (Pic: Mandi Mbatha / FEW)

An emotional memorial service and candlelight vigil was held last week to remember Duduzile Zozo, who was brutally raped and murdered in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, to the east of Johannesburg.

On Thursday, community members, LGBTIQA organisations, work colleagues and family attended the event, which was held at the spot where Duduzile’s body was found on 30 June.

She was discovered half naked and had been sexually violated with a toilet brush. Duduzile was only 26-years-old, and openly lesbian.

The atmosphere at the memorial service was one of sadness as well as anger, said the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW).

Friends and neighbours remembered Duduzile fondly and expressed their pain over her death. Songs were sung celebrating her life and calling for an end to homophobia.

“They expressed their anger over the fact that her killer still walks free. Representatives from the Forum for the Empowerment of Woman, Ihawu, Iranti and other civil society organisations were present at the service. Each representative seemed to echo the same plea; that anyone with any information should come forward. That our voices will not be silenced,” said FEW.

As the sun set, candles were lit for Duduzile. A moment of silence was observed to honour the way she lived her life as an openly lesbian woman as well as the tragic end that befell her. Prayers were said, pleading that Duduzile’s killer be found and that justice is served.

In other developments in the case, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) joined the chorus of voices condemning the murder.

“While the right to equality enshrined in the Constitution protects people from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, it is absolutely imperative that this Constitutional right is given effect to by all members of society,” said the SAHRC.

“We call upon the police to urgently investigate this matter and to find the perpetrator/s responsible for this heinous act.”

There have been no arrests in connection with the murder. According to The Star, police are baffled by the attack.

Other than the toilet brush that had been rammed into her vagina, there was no bleeding, no bruises on Duduzile’s body, no strangulation marks around her neck and no signs of a struggle at the scene.

“It was so brutal… so unbelievable. We are so stunned by what happened, and the only thing in our mind is to get the perpetrator, and then we will be okay. This was not an ordinary murder. To put that thing into a person… what a painful thing to do,” SAPS spokesman Captain Godfrey Maditsi told the newspaper.

Sexual health expert Dr Eve slammed the government for dragging its feet in enacting hate crime legislation that would impose harsher sentences on people convicted of attacking people because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or appearance.

“While the Government thinks and thinks, the men who believe women should be women and only love and desire men, are on the loose waiting for their next drunken opportunity to rape/murder another vulnerable lesbian,” Dr Eve wrote on her website.

She said that the ultimate solution to the crisis lay in educating children about gender respect, equality, and an ability to think critically.

“And it means teaching them that the world is not made up of binaries: of boy/girl only or that someone is either heterosexual or homosexual. If you are a true South African give them pride in the sexual rainbow too. You could prevent so much intolerance, violence and murder,” said Dr Eve.

Watch a video about Duduzile’s murder by Iranti-Org below.

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