Thembelihle 'Lihle' Sokhela

Thembelihle ‘Lihle’ Sokhela

South Africa’s LGBTI community remains under siege. Another lesbian woman has been raped and murdered in an apparent hate crime in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, outside of Johannesburg.

According to activists, the body of Thembelihle ‘Lihle’ Sokhela, believed to be in her late 20s, was found in her alleged killer’s room on Tuesday, two days after she’d been reported missing.

It’s suspected that she was raped. Her head had been bashed against the wall, she’d been suffocated with a pillow and was wrapped in a blanket next to the bed. Her body was only discovered after a smell was noticed emanating from the room.

A suspect reportedly handed himself in to police. He appeared in the Benoni Magistrates’ Court on Thursday on a charge of pre-meditated murder.

Human rights defender Sybil Nandi Ezane, who attended the court appearance, told Mambaonline that prosecutors revealed that the 45-year-old accused was on parole after recently being released from prison for another rape and murder.

Ezane said Daveyton police informed her that results from forensic tests were required to confirm if Sokhela had been raped.

She was disturbed that investigators had failed to take the victim’s clothes and the blanket she was wrapped in from the crime scene as evidence. “How do you then get justice for her if there is such sloppy work by the police?” she asked.

“There is a war on women and their bodies. After today I do not feel that we can trust the police to protect or fight this war alongside us,” Ezane added.

The group Daveyton Uthingo The-Rainbow, described Sokhela as “a beautiful soul” who was “proudly LGBTI.”

Her alleged killer remains in custody and will appear in court again on 26 September.

Also on Thursday, LGBTI activists and community members held a protest march to the Daveyton Police Station demanding justice for Sokhela and for other victims of LGBTI hate crimes.

The murder comes a month after the half-naked body of openly lesbian Gift (Disebo) Makau was discovered in Ventersdorp. A running hose pipe had been shoved down her throat and into her stomach.

Sokhela’s hate crime killing also comes just days before Ekurhuleni’s Pride March, planned for this Saturday.

The event, now in its sixth year, will be based at Mponeng Park, Modjadji Street, Tsakane (next to Tsakane Mall), Brakpan. It starts at 10.30am.

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