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.”
“Lesbians are very often undercounted as murder victims–both within the so-called LGBT community and by those who monitor violence against women. This is a beginning effort to honor the names of the lesbians that have been lost.”
We honour the following sisters:
Brenda Lorena Alvarado Montoya (2019) – Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Thuthukile Mabasa (2018) – Capetown, South Africa
Nicole Saavedra (2016) – Valparaiso, Brazil
Sidney Loofe (2017) – Nebraska, USA
Anne Mikaelly (2018) – Brasilia, Brazil
Unathi Bixa (2017) – Capetown, South Africa
Charlene Ranstrom and Brenda Warner (1988) – Nashua, New Hampshire
Cassie Hayes (2018) – Southport, Mercyside, England
Marielle Franco (2018) – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Elke W. and Beate N. (2016) – Gersthofen-Hirblingen, Germany
Anisha and Joey van Niekerk (2017) – Magaliesberg, South Africa
Kaladaa Crowell (and her 11 year-old daughter, Kyra Inglett) (2017) – West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Noxolo Xakeka (2018) – Lwandle, South Africa
Kerrice Lewis (2018) – Washington, D.C., USA
Shanta Myers and Brandi Mells (and Shanta’s two children, Shanise Myers and Jeremiah Myers) (2017) – Troy, New York, USA
Josanne Maria Almeida da Silva and Ana Paula da Silva Pereira (2017) – Manaus, Brazil
Quezia Kassya (2017) – San Paulo, Brazil
Georgann Lee Smith (2009) – Sarasota, Florida, USA
Ana Flávia Leitão (2017) – Cataguases, Brazil
Irani Ribeiro de Medeiros (2017) – Várzea Grande (Mato Grosso), Brazil.
Felicia Dormans (2017) – Mount Holly, New Jersey, USA.
Cape Town – Almost six months after the rape and murder of a young Gugulethu woman, community and gender activist groups are still shocked at the lack of progress in the investigation. Now they fear those who killed Thuthukile Mabasa might never be brought to justice. Community leader Nuse Mpetha said they believed Mabasa was raped and murdered because she was a lesbian. And their attempts to find answers into Mabasa’s death has only yielded more questions.
Committed by neighborhood friends or close relatives – parents or siblings in the most sordid cases – who do not accept lesbianism, corrective rape pursues the idea of ”amending” the orientation of their victims through sexual assault. Different groups started the fight to make visible and fight a crime that is not yet recognized, but it seems to be more and more present.
Cometido por amigos del barrio o familiares cercanos -padres o hermanos en los casos más sórdidos- que no aceptan el lesbianismo, la violación correctiva persigue la idea de “enmendar” la orientación de sus víctimas mediante la agresión sexual. Distintos colectivos iniciaron la lucha por visibilizar y combatir un delito que aún no es reconocido, pero parece estar cada vez más presente.
Continue reading at: https://www.latercera.com/reportajes/noticia/violacion-correctiva-el-ataque-silenciado/551274/ (Source)
A lesbian has said she was raped at the age of 15 by her father in order to ‘make her straight.’ The South African woman, known only as Mubizana, also accused her uncle and his friend of raping her on the same day, when her grandmother had left home to visit relatives in Dennilton, Limpopo, in the north-east of the country.