Driftsands LGBTI community take back the streets to honour Vovo (Pics)

Pic: Triangle Project

Pic: Triangle Project

Members of the LGBTI community took to the streets of Driftsands, near Khayelitsha, to honour slain lesbian Noluvo Swelindawo (Vovo) on Saturday.

The group, consisting of Swelindawo’s friends, family, activists and supporters, sang and held up a large banner that read, “Her name was Noluvo”, as well as placards with messages such as, “Homosexuality is African, Homophobia is UnAfrican”. Many also wore t-shirts emblazoned with an image of Swelindawo’s face.

The event was organised by Triangle Project, Driftsands Youth in Action and the Sikhumbule Safe Space Group, of which Swelindawo was a member.

The protest proceeded through Driftsands, past homes and residents, to the location where the 22-year-old woman’s body was found; near a footbridge alongside the N2 highway.

Once there, flowers were placed on the ground and friends and family spoke about Swelindawo and the woman she was; her sense of humour, her love and respect for her family, and how unafraid she was to be herself.

“It was a very powerful moment,” Sharon Cox, Triangle Project Health and Support Services Manager, told Mambaonline. “There was a lot of emotion. It was hard to stand there in that spot.”

The group, singing as they marched, then moved back through the settlement, along the route via which Swelindawo was abducted, to her home; from where she was taken.

“We stopped along the way and a few people spoke about the importance of being out, speaking out and of reporting crime to the police,” said Cox, noting that their words were addressed to the residents of Driftsands.

“It was a show of solidarity and of strength. To say that, ‘We are here. You took one of our people, one of our own,’ and that, ‘We will seek justice for her and that her memory will never die. You may have murdered her but you’ve planted a seed.’”

Pic: Triangle Project

Pic: Triangle Project

On December 3, a group of up to 11 men broke into Swelindawo’s home at night and dragged her away. Her body was found the next day with a gunshot wound.

Thus far, just one man, Signice Mdani, 24, has been arrested and charged with house breaking, intent to assault, kidnapping and Swelindawo’s murder. His bail hearing is set for 21 December.

A memorial service for Swelindawo will take place on Wednesday, 14 December at 6pm in the Mzamotsha Primary School hall, in Driftands. She will be buried in her home town of Lady Frere, in the Eastern Cape, on Saturday, 17 December.

A campaign to raise money for members of the Sikhumbule Safe Space Group to attend the funeral has been a success. Cox told Mambaonline that any money raised in addition to the initial target of R12,000 will be passed on to Swelindawo’s family and will also be used to pay for the costs of the funeral and transporting her body to the Eastern Cape.

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