DA accuses SA government of lacking compassion for gay widower

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Johann Els (right) and his late husband Hannes Human who died in Tanzania

The Democratic Alliance Rainbow Network has slammed the South African government for failing to assist a gay widower whose husband died in Tanzania.

Last week, MambaOnline reported that when Johann Els’s spouse of 16 years unexpectedly died on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar in August last year he was faced with obstruction and discrimination by the authorities, fueled, he says, by homophobia.

Officials refused to accept him as the next of kin because the country does not recognise same-sex marriages or relationships and delayed the repatriation of Hannes Human’s body.

Humiliatingly, relatives had to step in to ensure that the remains were eventually returned to South Africa so that Human could be laid to rest.

Months later, the heartbroken Els is still unable to find emotional and financial closure because the morgue in Tanzania allegedly continues to ignore his requests to be sent the autopsy report. Without the documents, Human’s life insurance policy cannot be paid out.

“I know that everyone has a story of sudden loss, especially over this Covid-19 period, but the hold up is robbing me from my grieving process and from making peace with why a good man died alone in a hotel room. And this is because I simply asked to reclaim my husband’s body,” Els told MambaOnline.

He said he’d requested help from the South African Embassy in Dar es Salaam but “they have not lifted a finger to assist.”

In a statement, Cllr Malcolm de Klerk, Co-founding member of the DA Rainbow Network, accused the South African government and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) of being heartless.

“Further adding to this horrific story is that the South African government and DIRCO have been silent to Mr Els’ plea for assistance from his government,” said de Klerk. 

“This incident shows a lack of compassion and regard from the South African government towards its citizens and furthermore displays its lack of proper response to safeguard and protect the LGBTIQ plus community.”

A February 2020 Human Rights Watch report documented the impact of Tanzania’s anti-LGBTQ policies. This includes arresting LGBTQ individuals under a colonial-era law prohibiting “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” (with penalties such as life in prison) and conducting forced anal examinations to collect “evidence” of anal intercourse.

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