by Lesego Tlhwale
While many South Africans gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa to commemorate nineteen years of freedom, the LGBTI community in Ekurhuleni gathered in Daveyton to bury Patricia ‘Pat’ Mashigo whose lifeless body was found near a local primary school on the 21 April 2013.
Mashigo was allegedly murdered in the early hours of the 21th April 2013. Her naked body was found laid next to a portion of bricks with only a bra covering her breast; she had several bruises on her thighs and severe neck wound. Mashigo was a black lesbian mother of two teenagers who is believed to have been murdered because of her sexuality.
Mashigo’s murder is not the first for the Ekurhuleni community; she is the fifth lesbian to be brutally murdered in Ekurhuleni only since 2008. Three of those women were killed in the month of April, which is dubbed freedom month in South Africa.
Eudy Simelane, an openly lesbian woman and former Banyana Banyana player was murdered on the
27 April 2008 in KwaThema.
Girliy Nkosi a visible lesbian also from KwaThema died of internal bleeding after being attacked by unknown men, she died on the 02 June 2009.
20 year old Nokuthula Radebe, was found dead in an abandon building in Thokoza, she was murdered on the 28 March 2011.
A month later on the 24 April 2011 Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24 year old Lesbian mother of two was found brutally murdered in KwaThema.
Nogwaza’s case like Simelane’s attracted media attention and their stories were reported on both locally and internationally.
LGBTI groups in South Africa have long pleaded with the South African government to speak out publicly about the plaque of black lesbians in this country. However, the cry for help seem to fall on deaf ears as no action has been taken to date to curb the killing of black lesbians.
South Africa is faced with a plight of sexual violence toward women and children, and it is said that, “women are more likely to get raped than learn how to read”, and “one in three South African’s men have admitted to raping a woman in their lifetime”.
With such facts, one would wonder if it’s really necessary for South Africans to celebrate freedom day when marginalized groups are constantly tormented. Since 2008 the month of April have claimed innocent lives of black lesbians and yet we are supposed to celebrate, what’s there to celebrate?
In 1994 President Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first black South African president and that for many black South Africans meant freedoms from the apartheid era. Two years later in 1996 unfair discrimination against one’s sexual orientation was included into the constitution which meant LGBTI individuals can live their lives without fear of oppression. However, that is not the case 17 years later. Black lesbians are being gang raped and murders on basis of their sexual orientation, so tell me where is the so called freedom?
Pat’s funeral coincided with Zanele Muholi’s Faces & Phases exhibition opened yesterday on the 27th April 2013, as part of the annual Pink Apple Film Festival in Zurich, Switzerland.
To mourn the death of Patricia Mashigo (36) and many LGBTI activists and victims of hate crimes in African and beyond. Inkanyiso together with activists’ abroad, the LGBTI-Groups today on (28 April 2013) will host a candlelight memorial to remember all the fallen black lesbians who died in the hands of homophobes in and around South African townships.
Today we remember the dismembered Eudy Simelane
Muholi the founder of Inkanyiso uses all the international spaces and events she’s invited to, to educate the international LGBTI community of what’s happening in South Africa in relation to hate crimes and how they affect black lesbians especially.
This international solidarity initiative was previously held in Paris to honour the lives of Buhle Msibi & Busi Sigasa who were lesbian activists, poets, that both died at age 25 due to HIV related illnesses.
Also, not forgetting all those LGBTI individuals who are surviving and succumbed to HIV illnesses due to curative rapes after hate crime incidents.
May the beautiful souls of Eudy, Girly, Nokuthula, Noxolo and Patricia rest in peace.
Previous articles by Lesego Tlhwale
2013 March 24: Recognition of LGBTI Activist should be a culture