South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: September 2023


OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa, including hate speech. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for September 2023.

National campaign to highlight the Equality Courts launched

OUT LGBT Well-being launched a campaign aimed at educating South Africa’s LGBTIQ+ community about Equality Courts. These courts are a powerful tool but are often underutilised. The campaign, supported by Open Society Foundations, includes social media posts highlighting key facts about Equality Courts and an easy-to-understand online guide on how to use them. OUT is also hosting community workshops to educate individuals on accessing these courts. Equality Courts are a vital resource for the LGBTIQ+ community facing escalating intolerance and hate speech.

Student kidnapped and severely beaten in Grindr Gang hate crime incident

The South African Police Service arrested seven suspects in Johannesburg believed to be connected to a series of so-called Grindr Gang incidents, which have targeted members of the LGBTIQ+ community. The suspects are alleged to have kidnapped a Wits University student through the Grindr dating app, demanding a ransom of R30,000. A team comprising various police units and security companies rescued the victim, who was found bound and unconscious. The 18-year-old had been subjected to severe beatings, resulting in his hospitalisation in a critical condition. The suspects have been linked to several similar cases. Police have cautioned that they believe that multiple groups of criminals are targeting LGBTQ+ individuals through dating apps and that there is no one “Grindr Gang.”

Minister of Justice promises to improve government response to LGBTIQ+ community challenges

Ronald Lamola, the South African Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, pledged to enhance the government’s response to issues affecting the LGBTIQ+ community ahead of the upcoming elections. Speaking at Soweto Pride, Lamola highlighted the renewal of the LGBTI National Intervention Strategy, which will include government deputy ministers meeting regularly to raise awareness and change stereotypes in society. He also highlighted progress in the justice system, with eight successful convictions in hate crime cases against the LGBTIQ+ community between April 2022 and August 2023.

OUT assisted in three LGBTIQ+ discrimination cases in Gauteng

In September, OUT received requests for assistance in three cases of LGBTIQ+ discrimination, all occurring in Gauteng. These cases highlight the ongoing challenges faced by the LGBTIQ+ community in various aspects of their lives.

Case 1: Discrimination in Housing and Accommodation
In the first case, a couple alleged that they were subjected to discrimination by their landlord and subsequently evicted. The matter was referred to Access Chapter 2 (AC2) to provide legal representation and support to the affected individuals.

Case 2: Workplace Discrimination
The second case involved workplace discrimination. An individual claimed that they were denied a promotion at work due to their sexual orientation. This matter has proceeded to court, also with the legal support of AC2.

Case 3: Workplace Discrimination and Hate Speech
The third case is an incident involving both workplace discrimination and hate speech, now under review by the Equality Court. An LGBTIQ+ couple alleged that they were discriminated against by the CEO of the pharmaceutical company where one of the couple works. They assert that the CEO referred to them as “syphilis” in Afrikaans.

Nomvula Chenene murder case continued to face delays

The case against Sizwe Buthelezi, the man accused of murdering lesbian Nomvula Chenene, faced further delays in the Vereeniging Magistrates Court in September. These postponements occurred either because the state requested more time for investigation or due to the appointment of a new legal representative for the accused, who needed additional time to familiarise himself with the case. These ongoing delays have taken a toll on the victim’s family, both emotionally and financially, given the time and costs involved in attending court proceedings. Chenene went missing on December 10, 2022, and her remains were discovered buried underneath Buthelezi’s shack on March 25, 2023, in Lakeside, south of Johannesburg.


  • 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
  • If you need free support to uphold your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at
  • Access LGBTQI+ health, legal and other support services, and get information about your rights, gender and sexuality by dialing *120*72524# on any cellphone. *60c a minute.

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