Lesley’s funeral (SABC News)
Lesley Makousa, the 17-year-old LGBT school pupil who was murdered in Potchefstroom just over a week ago, was laid to rest on the weekend.
The teenager, whose body was found hidden in bushes, is believed to have been strangled with a shoelace. His cellphone was also stolen in the attack.
While there is neither a suspect nor a motive in the killing at this point, there are concerns that the murder was an anti-LGBT hate crime.
On Saturday, Lesley’s grieving friends and family, activists and members of the community, gathered at the Promosa Community Hall to remember and bury the young man. His uncle, Frans Makousa, told SABC News that the heartbroken family wants to see his nephew’s killer or killers behind bars.
“The family is a family that can forgive because the word of the Lord teaches us that we must forgive. But let justice take place. Nothing else but justice,” he said.
Two days earlier, Lesley’s schoolmates and teachers also held a memorial service at the Pomosa Secondary School.
Speaking to the Potchefstroom Herald, Frans described the teen as “a quiet, obedient, humble person who was an active member of the Nazarene Church”.
He went on to add: “He was a people’s darling and could mingle easily with anyone. What I also loved about him was that, if something bad had happened, he would try and talk to you and come up with solutions to rectify it.”
Frans said that Lesley had ambitions of working in fashion and dreamed of one day dressing celebrities for red carpet events.
The most recent previous deadly LGBT attack in Potchefstroom was the November 2015 murder of music student Bobby Motlatla. He was stabbed 39 times in his flat. That killing remains unsolved.
Mpho Buntse, Chairperson of the North West K9 LGBTI group, told Mambaonline that he believes that, “this is a hate crime; the victim was openly gay. It is very indicative of a hate crime.”
Buntse expressed his disappointment that the authorities had taken little action to improve awareness about the LGBT community in the region following Bobby Motlatla’s murder last year.
“There is no visibility, education and awareness around LGBTI issues. There is no urgency from authorities,” he said.
Buntse explained that while LGBT people are often visible in the townships this does not translate to true acceptance and inclusion.
“It doesn’t mean that people understand. People still feel that it is a taboo. A matter of tolerance is not enough as knowledge levels are very low. The general perspective from the public is that, as an LGBTI person, I chose this.”
Buntse said that activists will place pressure on the authorities for a speedy investigation into Lesley’s murder and will hold protests to highlight the scourge of hate crimes.