The aunt of Motshidisi Melamu, who was murdered, mutilated and set on fire last month in Gauteng, has spoken about the pain of losing her niece.
According to an EWN video report (see below), Motshidisi left home on 16 December to go to a party with friends.
When she didn’t return after two days, her family reported her missing.
Police had, however, already discovered the 21-year-old Evaton North woman’s body in a field. It’s been reported that she had been raped and mutilated before being set alight.
The family at first hoped that the body wasn’t Motshidisi’s and it was her aunt, Matshidiso Melamu, who had the grim task of identifying her niece in the mortuary.
“We couldn’t tell if it was her or not because her body was not the way we knew it, but it was her,” said Matshidiso.
She added that her niece will be remembered for teaching the family the latest dance moves. “She danced, she always laughed… I am going to miss her most for that. Now no one in the house teaches us how to dance.”
Motshidisi’s cousin also told EWN that the young woman had often received threats from some people in the community.
“We had accepted her at home. We didn’t care what others had to say. I just want police to take action and use these people as an example, to show them that what they did as wrong,” said the un-named cousin.
Motshidisi had written her matric exams just weeks before her murder but never lived to know that she had passed.
He murder is one of three recent attacks thought to be hate crimes. On 27 December, 30-year-old Phoebe Titus, a transgender woman, was knifed in the neck in broad daylight, allegedly by a 15-year-old in Wolseley in the Western Cape.
The month before, the naked body of 35-year-old LGBTI music student Bobby Motlatla was discovered in his Potchefstroom flat. He had been stabbed 39 times.
“Enough is enough. Every attack is one too many,” commented Lerato Phalakatshela, Love Not Hate Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being. “We all need to work together to stop these hate crimes, be it by conducting marches, submitting memoranda or going to the media to help get our voices heard.”
He welcomed recent reports that the long-awaited Hate Crimes Bill will soon be presented to Cabinet and then released to the public for comment.
“Hate crime legislation is desperately needed in South Africa,” said Phalakatshela. “It will not only penalise perpetrators for the hate-based nature of their crimes, but will also finally allow the authorities to accurately monitor these incidents and respond as needed.”
He urged the LGBTI community and the general public to come forward to the authorities with information on the latest hate crime cases.
As part of Love Not Hate’s awareness campaign, OUT LGBT Well-being, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Foundation for Human Rights are hosting a public dialogue in Tshwane about the LGBTI community and the hate crimes faced by its members.
The event will take place on Friday 29 January at 11am in Soshanguve (Falala Community Hall, Block F). Community organisations are invited to place their stalls at the venue so they can market their objectives and services.
To participate in the dialogue or for more information, please contact Phalakatshela on firstname.lastname@example.org or 012 430 3272.