THE family of a lesbian woman who was shot and killed believe her death was mostly influenced by her sexuality. Limakatso Puling, 29, was shot and killed in Avoca Hills on Tuesday night.
It is alleged Puling and a friend were walking home when they were approached by armed men who demanded their cellphones. It is believed that Puling refused to hand over her cellphone leading to one of the men shooting her in the head.
Thembeka Ngcengula, Puling’s girlfriend, said it would take her a very long time to come to terms with her loss. Not only had she lost a partner but a parent to her disabled daughter, Olwethu, she said.
Lineo Puling, Limakatso’s aunt, said the family were heartbroken. They were expecting to see her in the December holidays. She said Puling had called home a weekend before her death and told them to make arrangements for a family get-together.
“I don’t even know where to begin explaining the hurt our family, especially her grandmother, is going through. We haven’t seen her since 2018. Receiving her phone calls telling us she was coming home brought so much joy. Unfortunately, it was short-lived.”
Lineo said they were saddened that their daughter was robbed of her chance at life because of her sexuality.
“We contacted her friend who she was with when they were attacked. She told us that when Limakatso refused (to give) her phone, those men kept calling her names regarding her sexuality. The killers must be gloating that they killed a lesbian. Was she not a human being? She was a lesbian woman and didn’t deserve to be killed. I hope justice will be served one day.”
Former South Africa striker Portia Modise doesn’t care if the football community loves her. She doesn’t care if you like her outspoken manner, or the way she dresses, or that she loves women.
She’s the only African footballer to score 100 international goals, and represented her country for 15 years from the age of 16. But if you don’t want to give her respect for that, or her countless achievements on the field, she’s not too fussed about that either.
One of the first openly gay [sic] players in the global game, Modise says she only cares about furthering women’s football in South Africa, protecting female players from harassment, and being a voice for the LGBTQ+ community in her country.
Today, 21 years after her debut in 2000, the out footballers in Africa can be counted on one hand, but interestingly include her captaincy successor for Banyana Banyana, Janine van Wyk.
Despite hard-earned legal freedoms and constitutional rights won since apartheid [same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006], much of the LGBTQ+ community in South Africa lives in perpetual fear of violence.
Murder and ‘corrective rape’, during which women are violated to ‘fix’ their queerness [sic], are still an epidemic for Black women in particular. There have been over 20 recorded LGBTQ+ hate crime murders locally since February 2021.
For Modise, the especially brutal rape and murder of national teammate and fellow activist Eudy Simelane in 2008, who was stabbed 25 times, further spurred her on in her fight for fair treatment, and was a factor in her exit from the team for four years.
Lesbian activist, Sisanda Gumede, 28 was the latest victim of homophobic murder in South Africa when she was stabbed at the weekend.
It is alleged that a 28-year-old lesbian activist, Sisanda Gumede, was stabbed on Sunday afternoon and was rushed to hospital bleeding profusely. She died en route to hospital.
“Although the information regarding the incident violently [sic] is still sketchy, it appears that the deceased and (the suspect) had an altercation while at home. Gumede’s murder is understood to be motivated by homophobia, as (the suspect) allegedly gloated after the incident that he had removed the curse from the family,” the Department of Social Development said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Albro McLean, the man who raped his lesbian neighbour in an attempt to “make her a women”, has received a life sentence in the Western Cape High Court.
He was convicted for “corrective rape”, despite pleading not guilty to charges of rape and assault with aggravating circumstances, in the Wynberg Regional Court. …
During his appeal, his lawyer argued that the sentence handed down was disproportionate to the offence and that the court overemphasised the seriousness of the offence, at the expense of personal circumstances of the accused.
State advocate, Liezel Scholzel dismissed the argument: “Rape is a very serious offences constituting, as it does, a humiliating, degrading and brutal invasion of privacy, dignity and the person of the victim. It is regarded as a cancer within the society. Not only did the appellant rape the complainant, but he did so with a further motive and out of prejudice that he had against her sexual orientation, causing further serious emotional trauma to the complainant.
“This type of rape has been informally termed as ’corrective’ rape. Corrective rape is not the same as ‘mere’ rape in that it is committed based on prejudice and intolerance. Hate crimes, by nature, cause greater harm than ordinary crimes because they increase the vulnerability of the victims as they are unable to change the characteristics which made them a target,” she said.
She asked that the courts send out a clear message that those types of attacks would not be tolerated.
On 1 August 2021 Listening2Lesbians provided submissions in response to the following from the Commission on the Status of Women:
“Any individual, non-governmental organization, group or network may submit communications (complaints/appeals/petitions) to the Commission on the Status of Women containing information relating to alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world. The Commission on the Status of Women considers such communications as part of its annual programme of work in order to identify emerging trends and patterns of injustice and discriminatory practices against women for purposes of policy formulation and development of strategies for the promotion of gender equality.”
Information was provided to the UN on incidents dating back approximately 2.5 years across the 57 countries we have reported on in that time.
Legal, social and familial punishment of lesbians for failing to conform with the expectations imposed on women illuminates the status of women around the world. Homosexuality is understood to be a breach of sex-based expectations. Strictly enforced sex roles are accompanied by increased consequences for those who break them, individually or collectively. Lesbians, or women read as lesbians, are doubly punishable for their non-conformity, both overt and inferred.
Listening2Lesbians is not an expert on these countries and provided this information to augment and support the information provided by women from individual communities. We can only provide information on cases we have been able to locate and based our submissions solely around the available facts. Please note that we welcome corrections and updates.
We are painfully aware of the many communities not represented.
Anyone with information on missing communities is invited to contact us with information on reporting violence and discrimination against lesbians in their community.
Family, friends and members of the LGBTIQ+ community in Limpopo have been left reeling by the brutal rape and murder of a young lesbian community health worker, in what is suspected to be a hate crime.
A young lesbian community health worker was raped, stabbed multiple times and dumped alongside the road next to Helen Franz Hospital in the rural Senwabarwana area of Limpopo last week.
Thapelo Constance Sehata (23), of Desmond Park in Senwabarwana, was found on Wednesday (28 July 2021) unconscious and bleeding from severe stab wounds, just a short distance from the hospital.
She later succumbed to her injuries, following what her family and fellow members of the LGBTIQ+ community described as a hate crime motivated by her sexual identity. Police have confirmed the incident.
Sehata was a mother of a nine-year-old girl and worked as peer educator at the non-governmental organisation (NPO) Centre for Positive Care (CPC).
Her distraught older sister, Pretty Sehata (31), told Health-e News this week that the whole family, including their 63-year-old mother, was hurt beyond words.
“Thapelo was open about being lesbian and we accepted and loved her as our own in the family. Of course, there were some residents who would mock, insult and ridicule her for what she was. And here we are in pain today, mourning her brutal killing. She was raped, killed and dumped along the road as if she was not human,” said Pretty.
Part two of this extract, the first part of which the Mail & Guardian published last week, lists the names of black lesbians who were murdered between 2007 and 2018, allegedly because of their sexual orientation.
This is an edited extract from the book Femicide in South Africa (Kwela) by Nechama Brodie.
In 1990, the year that Nelson Mandela was released, Johannesburg held the very first Gay and Lesbian Pride march, at which Simon Nkoli, Beverly Ditsie and Justice Edwin Cameron were among the speakers. The marchers chanted, “Out of the closet and into the streets.”
It was a significant moment, even though it would take several more years before gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) individuals would be granted similar rights and protections as hetero- and cis-sexual South Africans, first under an interim and then a final constitution that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
Between 1994 and 2005 a number of legal amendments were made and new laws introduced that formalised rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals. The criminalisation of sodomy was declared unconstitutional. Same-sex partners were granted similar rights in terms of immigration and financial benefits as those granted to different-sex spouses or partners. Trans and intersex individuals were allowed to change their legally recognised sex. Same-sex couples were allowed to jointly adopt children or adopt each other’s children. Lesbian couples were allowed to be registered as the natural, legitimate parents of a child that one of them had born.
There were also challenges to the constitutionality of the Marriage Act, which did not then allow for same-sex unions to be recognised as marriages. By late 2005, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Marriage Act was unconstitutional and gave parliament one year in which to remedy the matter.
But being “out of the closet” also meant that LGBTI individuals were more openly targeted for hate, harassment, victimisation and violence — even as these new laws were passed supposedly protecting their rights. Although this text focuses on violence against black lesbians, it is important to note that the growth in hate crimes was experienced by all members of the LGBTI community, with transgender individuals experiencing even higher levels of violence, as a group, than lesbians or gay men.
Black lesbians face double jeopardy This is also a good place to discuss why this is about “black lesbians” and not just lesbians, and also what the concept of “black lesbians” represents as a group, even though it is quite obviously made up of individual black women who are by no means homogenous because of their sexual preference.
In Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Jane Bennett, Vasu Reddy and Relebohile Moletsane’s book The Country We Want to Live In: Hate Crimes and Homophobia in the Lives of Black Lesbian South Africans (HSRC Press, 2010), they note that, although there were risks to “singling out a particular group of people as targets of gender-based violence”, black lesbians were “doubly vulnerable”.
This was because, firstly, although all women in South Africa were vulnerable to violence, there was a correlation between increased poverty and increased vulnerability and, in South Africa, being black meant there was a greater association with being poor or having less access to resources. Not only did black women live in environments in which, just as other black women, they were vulnerable to attack, they also lived in places in which cultures were often deeply homophobic and in which sexual violence had become a “popular weapon”.
In the 1980s, the country’s ongoing rape crisis had started to take on chilling new aspects, including gang rapes that became known as “jackrolling”. Jackrolling initially involved the selection and abduction of a victim, usually a woman who (her attackers believed) presented herself as if she was “better than them” and “out of reach”. There were echoes of these sentiments in the growing number of stories that began to emerge during the 1990s of black lesbian women being targeted, being beaten and raped by men, supposedly as a means of “teaching them how to be proper women”.
This gradually became referred to as “curative” or “corrective” rape, and involved three distinct aspects: one was punishment of the woman, for her choice of sexual identity and her lifestyle; a second was the humiliation of the victim — as with jackrolling, this was often achieved through gang rapes; the third was the repulsive misnomer of “transforming” lesbians into heterosexual women through violent penetration.
Even as newspapers carried the occasional story about black lesbians’ struggles for acceptance individually or within their communities in the context of the changing legislative landscape, almost every single one of these women’s accounts also included incidents of violence, most frequently rape. Sometimes these women were even raped with the knowledge of their family members, who either actively encouraged the assault in the hope of ridding the young woman of her homosexuality, or tacitly accepted such attacks as what should happen to “girls like that”.
DURBAN – THE MEC for Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal is calling on residents to rally around the LGBTI+ community following the gruesome murder of a 22-year-old woman.
MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said KwaMakhutha resident Anele Bhengu’s body was found dumped in the Durban south township.
She was raped and stabbed repeatedly. Her throat and abdomen was also slit.
“The brutal murder of this child is symptomatic of the challenges we have in the society. We are left in shock and fear by the killing of our children in this province,” she said.
Khoza said communities had a responsibility to end these violent crimes in the province.
“We need to get to the bottom of this as to why people have so much hatred towards the LGBTQIA+ community. We call on all citizens to work with the law enforcement agencies, government and different bodies to end such cruelty,” Khoza said.
She said although the government and different activities continue to fight the scourge of these murders, some communities continue to discriminate against some people based on their sexual orientation.
Cape Town – A black lesbian, living in Khayelitsha, was killed in a suspected homophobic attack after her body was discovered on Friday inside her home at a newly-established informal settlement.
The family of Lulama Mvandaba said they believed she was targeted because of her sexuality. Mvelisi Mvandaba said their elder sister’s death came five months to the day after their mother’s death.
“We ask for privacy at this point and will issue a statement about her death once we have had time to grieve, as, unfortunately, she was murdered due to her sexuality and as a member of the LGBTQI+ community.
“To those who knew her vivacious energy and warmth, we extend our heartfelt condolences to you all.
“We are extremely shocked and traumatised as a family and can only imagine how all the kids she touched during her career will be feeling,” he said.
Mvandaba’s death comes after the murder of several gay and lesbian people across the Western Cape.
May 2021: 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.
March 2021: It’s been reported that Nonhlanhla Kunene was raped and murdered in Pietermaritzburg last weekend. According to The Witness, the body of the 37-year-old was discovered near the Edendale Primary School on Friday 5 March.
“When police arrived, they found that the woman was lying flat on her face and was naked from the waist down,” a police spokesperson told the newspaper.
“We are waiting on the post-mortem to give us further information as the police did not find any visible wounds on the victim’s body.”
“It is really sad that hate crimes and gender-based violence are still part of our daily struggle,” said the Pietermaritzburg-based Gay & Lesbian Network (GLN) on Facebook. “We continue to fear for our lives every day.”
While The Witness article did not refer to Kunene’s sexuality or gender identity, GLN Project Coordinator Tracey Sibisi confirmed to MambaOnline that she had been a member of the LGBTIQ community.
“Her friend called the organisation and reported the case and they told us that she was a lesbian,” said Sibisi.
An international footballer, coach and aspiring referee, Eudy Simelane dedicated her life to the sport.
She was one of the first openly gay [sic] women to live in her township of Kwa-Thema in South Africa and was a well-known LGBT+ activist.
But because of her sexuality, Simelane was brutally raped and murdered in 2008, aged just 31.
This is the story of her life and how the legacy of her death is still impacting South African society.
A campaigner for equality rights and social change, she was one of the first women to come out as a lesbian in South Africa.
On 27 April 2008, Simelane’s body was found in a stream just a few hundred metres from her home in Kwa-Thema.
Reports stated she was approached after leaving a pub, raped and then stabbed repeatedly.
Despite her death shocking many, activists claimed many lesbians in South Africa were targeted for ‘corrective rape’, a crime where the perpetrator aims to ‘cure’ the victim of their sexuality, converting them to heterosexuality.
Thato Mphuthi pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of Simelane in February 2009 and was sentenced to 32 years in prison. The following September, Themba Mvubu was also found guilty of the crimes and was sentenced to life in prison. When questioned by reporters in court, he responded: “I’m not sorry.”
Simelane’s sexuality put her in a vulnerable position, something her mother recognised, telling the BBC, “the whole of South Africa knew Eudy was a lesbian”.
The unfortunate reality is Simelane’s story isn’t unique – she is one of many victims of similar, horrific crimes in South Africa.
A year prior to her death, Sizakele Sigasa, a women’s and gay rights activist, and her friend Salone Massooa were heckled outside a bar and called ‘tomboys’. The women were then gang-raped, tortured, and shot dead.
Just a few years after Simelane’s murder, Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian, was found beaten and stoned to death in the same township Simelane lived.
Four people tried for the murder of Mooinooi same-sex couple Anisha and Joey van Niekerk, who were raped and killed in December 2017, were convicted in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Mercia Strydom, 24, Aaron Sithole, 27, his brother Jack Sithole, 21, and Alex Modau, 39, killed the couple before taking their bodies to a nearby river where they were burnt beyond recognition, National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said in a statement.
Their burnt-out car was found in Magaliesburg six days later.
Strydom’s husband, Koos, believed to be the mastermind behind the murders, killed himself last year, News24 reported. He had been found dead in his single cell at Kgosi Mampuru 111 Prison in Pretoria.
While party-goers celebrated at Cape Town Pride Festival this weekend, three men held a lesbian captive and raped her nearby.
Police believe the suspects gang-raped her with the excuse they were ‘correcting’ her sexuality.
Now officers have arrested two boys, aged 14 and 17 for the attack. But a third suspect is on the run and investigators are vowing to track him down.
The attack happened late on Friday (28 February), just hours before the main party of the Cape Town Pride Festival. The party on Saturday was a highlight of the South African city’s LGBT+ annual celebrations.
Colonel Dawood Laing, commander of Grassy Park station in Cape Town told the Daily voice the victim was a 25-year-old woman.
She was walking to a shop in Lotus River on Friday, shortly after 10pm, when one suspect approached her. The man, who she knows, said someone wanted to speak to her at a house in Duiker Avenue, a few minutes walk away.
She went with him to a ‘hokkie’ or shack behind the main house. Once there, three men held her. Laing says they are all members of the Dog Pound gang – a well-established, violent Cape Town gang.
Laing says one of the teens put his arm around the woman and told her he was in the mood for sex.
‘He then threw her down to the floor of the hokkie and pulled off her pants. He sodomised her and the other two suspects also both sodomised her and they let her go.’
He says the traumatised woman ran home but found her family sleeping and waited until Saturday morning to report the matter.
Laing adds: ‘She went to her girlfriend who called the police and a case was registered.
‘She was taken to the hospital and officers went on the hunt for the suspects on Monday morning.
‘They found two of the gangsters, aged 14 and 17, while the third suspect is on the run.’
The brutalised body of Madonnah James, a 32-year-old lesbian woman, was found dumped in a field in Bloemfontein’s Namibia township.
According to family members, Mabatho Maradonnah James, known as Madonnah, was last seen alive on the night of Friday 29 November. It’s believed that she’d gone out to buy cigarettes with an unknown man.
Her body was discovered the next morning near her family home, where she’d lived with her younger brother and sister.
Madonnah had been stoned until her face was unrecognisable. It’s also suspected that she’d been raped. Her funeral was held on Saturday.
In 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. So the country must be naturally progressive about LGBTQ equality, right?
The reality is that homophobia, brutal hate crimes, “corrective rape,” and other anti-LGBTQ violence persist, with profoundly heartbreaking effects. And it makes the fight for basic safety in the queer community risky and incredibly difficult.
But over the past decade, one organization has risen to the challenge. Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project (luleki-sizwe.com) is a non-profit devoted to delivering help and support to lesbians who are victims of homophobic attacks and rape across 10 South African township communities.
Funda of course welcomes donations — but the group has long encountered problems collecting international non-profit funds through its PayPal account. So, at present, the alternate donation method is via direct bank transfer, which this writer successfully did online in just a few minutes.
The organization’s business transaction account details are: Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project; Standard Bank South Africa, Cape Town; account number 071362940; branch code 024909; SWIFT code SBZAZAJJ. The Luleki Sizwe Womyn’s Project can be contacted at 071-171-9654 and firstname.lastname@example.org. These details are also listed at luleki-sizwe.com/donate.
Being a lesbian in South Africa can be a death sentence.
Nondi, Vee and over one hundred others came to the Isini Sam conference to meet and strategize on how to fight the hate and end the violence. They discussed how to better represent themselves and advocate as a cohesive group, how to combat stigmas and misconceptions, as well as how to better work with the police and community members.
“In South Africa we are free. But in our communities that we are living in, here in Khayelitsha, we are not free,” Jara said.
“We are trying to bring the community to also understand and to accept that we are humans and we are here and also that we are someone’s daughter or mother or sister,” Vokwana said.
They stress the similarities between all people. Many are quick to assert that while they are activists, their sexuality does not define them. They want to be seen as equals, as humans and accepted by their families, community, in the eyes of the law and by members of the police.
Those at the conference have chosen to speak out, but this choice comes with a price.
But activists still meet, organize and fight.
At the conference attendees broke into small groups to discuss plans for lobbying, greater visibility, training for police and ways to talk with their community members, family members and friends. They sang and danced and celebrated knowing they were among friends, among comrades, and for a while, they were safe.
They brought different viewpoints, had their own hopes for the movement and opinions on how to get there, but they shared a common goal.
Written on a white easel, a unanimously agreed upon goal from one of the groups said, “Look at me beyond my sexuality. Look at me as a human being.”