Report: Eastern Cape LGBTQ woman takes own life after rape (Updated)


Sue Ann Klaasen (Facebook)

There are reports that Sue Ann Klaasen, a young LGBTQ woman from Uitenhage, has committed suicide after being raped by a group of men.

Claims of the horrific assault and subsequent tragedy come as thousands of people gathered in Johannesburg on Friday to speak out against a wave of abuse and violence against women and children in South Africa.

Sue Ann, who was 21, worked at the local Pick n Pay store and was widely known in the small Eastern Cape town.

While details remain sketchy, initial unconfirmed reports from members of the community claim that she was attacked and raped on Friday night by a group of men. She is believed to have woken up in the bushes on Saturday morning.

Sue Ann reportedly went home after the ordeal and then took an overdose. She was rushed to hospital but passed away on Thursday. It’s understood that she left a suicide note in her bedroom.

There are conflicting reports about the alleged rape and whether or not Sue Ann knew her attackers amid fears that the perpetrators are being protected by the community, possibly out of fear of reprisal.

Concerned community member Carlisle Campbell helped organise a candlelight vigil in Sue Ann’s memory on Thursday night. Dozens arrived for the heartbreaking gathering at Sue Ann’s aunt’s house, where she lived. They listened to a sermon, sang, lit candles and mourned the needless loss of a young life.

Campbell decided to speak out to ensure that the young woman would not be forgotten by the people of Uitenhage. “We make so much noise about other victims in South Africa but now that it is our girl, we are quiet about it. Someone needed to take a stand and speak on behalf of Sue Ann and other women who have been silenced,” she said.

“Sue Ann could have been anybody’s daughter…”

Francisco Prins, who knew Sue Ann as an acquaintance, also attended the vigil.” She was always openly lesbian,” Prins told MambaOnline. People are saying that it was linked to her sexuality. It is indicative of where we live; it is really small-minded.”

Sue Ann’s Facebook page gives some insight into who she was. The intro states, “Living as a unicorn gets lonely from time to time,” while another post from last month affirms, “Always be YOU.”

Prins described Sue Ann as very sociable and said she had studied electrical engineering and was a keen sportsperson.

Her aunt is devastated by the loss. “I don’t know what to believe anymore,” she said in an emotional voice note sent to MambaOnline. She called for Sue Ann’s story to be made public “to save Uitenhage, to save all those who have not been born, all the daughters…”

She added: “Sue Ann could have been anybody’s daughter. She could have been myself, my granny, my mother, my aunt, my cousin.”

The community in Uitenhage mourning the loss of Sue Ann Klaasen on Thursday night (Pic: Francisco Prins)

Prins called for swift justice against Sue Ann’s attackers. “Those people who raped her are people who rejected who she was. It’s so frustrating that this mentality continues. It’s borne out of a place of ignorance. People who cause such violence and devastation should be imprisoned, and there needs to be a ripple effect.”

MambaOnline has been unable to contact the local police station but it’s believed that no arrests have been made.

UPDATE – 14 Sept 2019: According to the Weekend Post in Port Elizabeth, police have confirmed Sue Ann’s suicide but said that rape charges had not been filed before her death. They are now aware of the still-unconfirmed rape allegations and are awaiting the results of a post-mortem.

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