SA LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: March 2023
OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations, including hate speech, in South Africa. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for March 2023.
- In the culmination of a hate speech complaint that OUT LGBT Well-being lodged with the SA Human Rights Commission; Steve Hofmeyr agreed to an Equality Court settlement. The case stems from the singer’s April 2022 social media statements in which he told his hundreds of thousands of followers that the LGBTIQ+ acronym includes those who engage in bestiality and that the LGBTIQ+ community is in support of “grooming” children. In the 13 March settlement, Hofmeyr agreed to publish an apology to the LGBTIQ+ community, to pay a settlement amount of R100,000 to OUT, and to participate in a diversity and inclusivity awareness conversation. The outcome was seen as a significant victory in the battle against anti-LGBTIQ+ online hate speech in South Africa.
- MambaOnline reported that seven months after he took his own life after allegedly being mocked by a student teacher for his sexuality, the traumatised family of gay Soweto 15-year-old Tiro Moalusi were still waiting for answers from the Gauteng Department of Education. Tiro’s aunt, Masingita Khosa, told MambaOnline that the family had not been contacted by anyone from the department since September 2022, nor had they been informed of the outcome of a promised investigation into the student teacher’s actions. The department confirmed to MambaOnline that the investigation is still ongoing and that the matter had also been referred to the South African Council for Educators. The council, however, revealed that because the student teacher was not registered with it, no disciplinary action had been taken against her (which the department seemed to be unaware of). Follow-up questions to the department went unanswered. Khosa believes that the education authorities are attempting to evade responsibility for what transpired at the school.
- The adoption of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill in the National Assembly on 14 March was lauded as a major milestone in the fight against LGBTIO+ hate. If it becomes law, the Bill will recognise a hate crime as one motivated by the perpetrator’s prejudice or intolerance towards the victim based on several protected characteristics that include sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. The Bill will require these incidents to be recorded as hate crimes, which activists hope will result in a better understanding of the scope of the problem to develop successful interventions. The Bill will also make hate speech a criminal offence. This is defined as any form of communication and distribution thereof (including on social media) that has a clear intention to be harmful or incite harm or promote or propagate hatred. The legislation will next go to the National Council of Provinces for approval before being sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his signature.
- Controversial South African professor and author Tim Noakes came under fire for resharing a cartoon on Twitter associating the LGBTIQ+ community with paedophilia. The cartoon depicts a Trojan horse being wheeled towards “social acceptance”. While the front of the wooden horse is labelled “LGBTQ+”, the hidden interior is labelled “paedophiles”. The implication is that the LGBTIQ+ community is associated with or inclusive of paedophiles and that society’s acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ community or LGBTIQ+ rights is a first step towards it embracing paedophilia. Noakes responded to the furore by removing the tweet from his timeline and arguing that just because he retweeted the cartoon it didn’t mean that he agreed with its premise. This is disingenuous and fails to acknowledge that resharing something that is hateful amounts to disseminating hate speech. OUT is lodging a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission.
- On 25 March, around 50 people marched through the streets of Site C in Khayelitsha, Cape Town for the unveiling of a mural in honour of murdered lesbian woman Phelokazi Mqathanya. Mqathanya was stabbed to death on 2 May 2021 in what her relatives and activists believe was a hate crime. After numerous court delays and postponements, the man alleged to have killed the culinary student was ultimately found not guilty on 27 January 2023 due to insufficient evidence presented by the state. The mural was painted by artist Noleen Karumazondo. The words “You Killed Me” are written above the portrait of Mqathanya, directly addressing her killer who remains at large in her community and has yet to face justice.
- The murder case against, Luvuyo Jonas, the man accused of brutally killing 41-year-old Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela and then setting his body on fire continued to drag on in March. Ntuthela’s mutilated and charred remains were discovered in a shallow grave at Jonas’ house in KwaNobuhle, outside of Uitenhage in April 2021. The case was delayed when Jonas claimed to be mentally unwell. He was sent for medical assessment by the state after which he was found to be fit to stand trial. On 6 March, the case was postponed to 6 April due to loadshedding, and then again to 24 April, marking two years since Ntuthela was murdered.
- The search for missing lesbian Nomvula Chenene ended in tragedy when what are believed to be her remains were found in Lakeside, near Vereeniging. The 28-year-old Chenene went missing on 10 December 2022 after she left her home to visit a friend. She was reportedly last seen leaving a pub but never returned home. After more than three months without any leads, police were tipped off by a woman, believed to be the girlfriend of a 36-year-old suspect. Police discovered skeletal remains in a shallow grave underneath the suspect’s shack on 26 March. The man has since been arrested charged with murder. While the motive for the murder is unclear, the attack has left the area’s LGBTIQ+ community in shock and fearing that it may be another queerphobic hate crime.
Have you experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ rights violation such as a hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ discrimination in South Africa?
If you’d like to bring it to the attention of the LGBTIQ+ community, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need free support and/or legal advice on your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at email@example.com.
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