Dozens of members of the LGBTIQ+ community gathered at Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill on Wednesday night for a moving candlelight vigil to honour the victims of hate.
The event was in response to the #JusticeForQueerSA campaign sparked by the wave of murders of LGBTIQ+ people across the country since 12 February.
Images of the 10 most recent victims (see below) were placed on the walls of the courtyard of the historic Old Fort, where Nelson Mandela was twice imprisoned in the 50s and 60s.
Activists from organisations including Iranti, Wits Activate, Scope, The Thami Dish Foundation and Vaal LGBT spoke about the fear and rage many in the community are feeling.
Video messages from religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths who spoke in support of the LGBTIQ+ community were played to the crowd.
Dutch Reformed Church cleric, politician and anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak called on the clergy to “unmute” themselves when it came to the pain of the queer people (watch below).
As songs were sung, the mourners lit candles in memory of the victims of LGBTIQ+ hate and placed them under their images.
During the event, participants were shocked to receive the tragic news of yet another LGBTIQ+ murder and a separate attack on a lesbian in Orange Farm, south of the city.
Here are the names of the known LGBTIQ+ individuals murdered in the past three 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.
- Khulekani Gomazi, 27, who was beaten to death on 3 April in Mpophomeni in KwaZulu-Natal after being accused of sexual assault.
- 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.
- Phelokazi Mqathana, 24, who was stabbed to death on the weekend of 1 May in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It was reported that a man stabbed her after she rejected his advances.
- Lindokuhle Mapu, 23, who was stabbed to death in Mfuleni, outside of Cape Town, on 9 May.
Supporters and allies are urged to sign the online petition demanding action against LGBTIQ+ hate and violence in South Africa.