Hate crimes crisis | Promising LGBTIQ+ chef Phelokazi Mqathana murdered

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Phelokazi Mqathana was stabbed to death in a suspected hate crime in the Western Cape

An aspiring young chef is the latest LGBTIQ+ South African murdered in the heartbreaking wave of hate crime violence gripping the country.

On Monday, MambaOnline received initial reports that a lesbian woman had been killed in Cape Town. On Tuesday, the Daily Sun confirmed the news and stated that the victim was 24-year-old Phelokazi Mqathana.

She was stabbed to death in Khayelitsha, allegedly after she rejected the advances of a man while she was out socialising near her home.

“We heard that the man was touching her bum. When she told him to stop, he stabbed her,” Lelethu Ngalo, a family member told the Daily Sun.

The young woman had recently finished a chef course and was described by Ngalo as a “go-getter who had plans to take this family to another level…”

Lwethu Kala, Chairperson of Free Gender, told MambaOnline that Phelokazi had previously attended various workshops hosted by the organisation which speaks out for black queer women.

“She had very big plans, she was the best sushi chef at her school. She was going places,” said Kala.

Phelokazi’s murder is the eighth known LGBTIQ+ killing in a period of less than three months; a wave of hate that has shocked and terrified South Africa’s queer community.

“This incident brought back emotions, it made me feel that it will be a never-ending fight. It’s sad that every day we should live in fear because of who we are,” commented Kala.

She added defiantly: “But as much as we are getting killed we will never stop fighting, supporting and holding each other’s hands. Because our next generation is deserving of an equal country and to not live in fear because of who they are.”

A suspect has been arrested in connection with Phelokazi’s murder and will appear in court this week.

In a joint statement on 21 April, more than 20 LGBTIQ+ and human rights groups called on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government to urgently address the murders and the queerphobia behind them.

Among their demands is the urgent passage of the long-delayed Hate Crimes Bill, funding and restoring the National and Provincial [LGBTIQ hate crimes] Task Teams, changing SA’s gender identity laws and sensitising government departments.

While the president condemned the attacks in his Freedom Day speech, neither he nor the government has offered any plan or strategy to deal with the crisis. A petition has been set up demanding that our leaders take action to address LGBTIQ+ hate crimes. You can sign it here.

Here are the names of the other LGBTIQ+ individuals murdered in the past few months:

  • Bonang Gaelae, 29, whose throat was slashed in Sebokeng on 12 February.
  • Nonhlanhla Kunene, 37, whose body was found half naked in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg on 5 March.
  • Sphamandla Khoza, 34, who was beaten, stabbed and had his throat slit on 29 March in Kwamashu, Durban.
  • Nathaniel ‘Spokgoane’ Mbele, who was stabbed in the chest in Tshirela, Vanderbijlpark on 2 April.
  • Andile ‘Lulu’ Nthuthela, 41, whose mutilated and burned body was found on 10 April in KwaNobuhle, Kariega.
  • Lonwabo Jack, a young LGBTIQ+ individual who had just celebrated his 22nd birthday on 17 April. His lifeless body was found on a pavement the next day in Nyanga, Cape Town.
  • Lucky Kleinboy Motshabi, 30, whose body was found in a field in the town of Dennilton, Limpopo on 24 April. He was naked with stab wounds on his body.

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