Alleged gay basher found as music community rallies behind the victim


The individual alleged to have gay bashed a Johannesburg man at the Grietfest music festival on Saturday has reportedly been tracked down.

Hairstylist Brandon Swanepoel, 34, says he was attacked simply because he was dancing with another man at the event. The alleged assailant told him, “Don’t touch my arse”, before allegedly punching him in the face.

Swanepoel, who may require surgery, was given a picture of a man, whom he described as his assailant, by the festival organisers. The photo was published online and led to the individual being identified.

Dominique Gawlowski from Grietfest explained that after she heard about the attack she sourced photographs of the crowd taken during the event.

One of the pictures showed the moment the altercation took place. Remarkably, based on Swanepoel’s and other witnesses’ descriptions, she was also able to find a clear view of the alleged attacker in the photos. “The picture exactly matched Brandon’s description, wearing what they said he was wearing,” Gawlowski said.

Soon after the photo was published and shared, Gawlowski received a message from someone who said he recognised the man.

“This is the upside to the music community” she said. “People who came for a good time had it ruined, and people are not having it – they don’t want this kind of thing around them.”

Mambaonline understands that the alleged assailant then contacted Gawlowski, who passed on his details to Swanepoel and his lawyer. Gawlowski thanked Mambaonline for publishing the article about the attack. “If you guys hadn’t done that we couldn’t have found him,” she said.

Meanwhile an event has been organised to raise money to help Swanepoel pay for his medical and legal bills. The ‘Don’t Touch My Arse’ benefit show is being held at the Good Luck Bar (1 Fox street, Ferreirastown) on Thursday, 7 September.

The bands Raygun Royale and Velveteen Rocket have already been confirmed on the line-up for the show, which will also include dancers, acrobats and a make up station for all genders. “The vibe is to dress extravagantly and be who you are,” said Raygun Royale’s Max Schomburg.

He called on everyone who supports inclusiveness, diversity and equality to attend the event. All the proceeds will go to Swanepoel, who does not have medical aid. (For more information, visit the event page here.)

“I’m really thrilled that everyone has pulled together to make this happen,” Swanepoel told Mambaonline. “I’ve got faith in humanity again! There’s been an amazing response. The straight community has come out and are also helping me out.”

He said that the fundraising event is going to be a “safe space for people to express themselves,” adding: “We’re creating a movement at the moment. I know what happened to me was sad but sometimes beautiful things come out of these things.”

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