2013 May 15: SA Task Team representatives fail the LGBTI community

by Lesego Tlhwale

20 lesbian and gay individuals have been killed across South Africa since 2011 alone, including the recent case of Patricia ‘Pat’ Mashigo (36) who was brutally murdered in Daveyton township, Ekurhuleni district. Some of the cases happened in areas where some of the LGBTI organisations work in. In April 2013 South Africans celebrated 19 years of Democracy, a black lesbian mother of two, Patricia was buried on that particular day due to hate crime, and yet we have a team that was formed 2 years ago to deal with the same issue.

A national Hate Crime Task Team was formed in May 2011 in response to hate crimes against Lesbians and Gays individuals in South Africa turned two this year and unlike babies its age, the task team is still lying on its stomach.

Two years after the task team was formed, nothing tangible has come out of the team. The elected representatives included six persons of the judiciary, the police and the social development department, and six representatives of well-known Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) organisations.

The team, which was set to begin work in July of 2011 by, develop a legislative intervention plan, a public awareness strategy, and LGBTI-sensitive shelters, has done nothing to date. The team has failed dismally to keep their promises and bring about change in the hostility and atrocities faced by LGBTI’s in South Africa.

 In recent news regarding the task team, a group of Cape Town based activists, have created a petition called:“End South Africa’s Task Team 2 years of Silence”

The petition is set to challenge the government and task team silence about the rising violence against LGBTI South Africans.

Melanie Nathan wrote in her blog (O-blog-dee-o-blog-da) about the petition that,  “Today a new petition has been launched and we cannot be silent.  We need action. We need the government of South Africa to know that they are accountable to uphold the Constitution and so again we ask that all of you, no matter where you are, sign this petition. Let your voice be heard – that we will not give up, nor will we be taken lightly – we will not tolerate violence against LGBT South Africans. That it is time for action and sleeping on this issue is costing lives.”

She further wrote that, “This petition is a way to show we are here and watching over our LGBT family worldwide.”

In 2011, LulekiSizwe and Change.org created a petition that had over 200 000 signatures from all over the world, which was presented to the government to try and pressure them into doing something about the situation at hand. Lucky for them, the petition worked as the Department of Justice invited Ndumie Funda the director of LulekiSizwe and others for a meeting to discuss ways of addressing the state of hate crimes in the country.

Now, again in 2013, the same strategy by different people is used to try and pressure the government into doing or rather saying something about the growing trend of killings targeted at lesbians and gays.

I am not trying to sound pessimistic or anything but do the brains behind the new petition really believe that a change will happen? Or is that the South African government will be moved by it?

Unless then there’s a great plan at hand that will make the task team move a notch from where they are standing.

The team am talking about has representative from different civil society and LGBTI organisations, namely; Ndumie Funda (LulekiSizwe), Funeka Soldaat (FreeGender), Phindi Malaza (FEW), Zethu Matabeni (GALA), the late Jill Henderson (Triangle Project), Juan Nel (UCAP), Dipika Nath (Human Rights Watch), Nokhwezi Hoboyi (TAC) and COSATU, have done nothing at all to play their role in all of this. Please note that some of these representatives might have moved to other positions in different organisations.

All these organisations I mentioned below are all big players in the LGBTI movement of South Africa and they’re always on the forefront when it comes to sexual and gender issues, but in this instance unfortunately like the government they have failed the LGBTI community and me as a black lesbian living in a township.

The government granted the LGBTI community an opportunity to be watchdogs and to mainstream our plight, but it is clear that representatives placed there aren’t doing much to push for change.

We all know that our government is notorious for dragging their feet when it comes to such issues, but what have we done as civil society to make sure that doesn’t happen? Nothing!  Instead we join in on the dragging of feet party and enjoying being in high positions.

Background About The Task Team

“The move follows a call by 170 000 activists around the world, who demanded corrective action on ‘corrective’ rape, which is an increasingly common hate crime in which men rape lesbian women to ‘turn’ them straight or ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientation.”

“The justice ministry made the announcement on Tuesday during a meeting in Parliament of senior officials from the ministry, non-profit organisations, SAPS and Social Development, with grassroots activists, who used the social action platform, Change.org, to recruit a record-breaking 170 000 supporters from people in 163 countries.”

“The decision also follows the recent murder of Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian, who died after being stoned, stabbed with broken glass and gang raped in Kwa-Thema, outside Johannesburg.” (Source:  www.SAnews.gov.za)

Previous by Lesego

2013 April 28: Bleak freedom for black lesbians in South Africa
and
2013 April 12: Bros B4 Ho’s at the OIA film festival opening
and
2013 March 24: Recognition of LGBTI Activist should be a culture
and
2013 March 16: Dangerous love

and
2013 Feb. 12: A dildo is not a man; it’s a fantastic toy…

and
2013 Mar.1: Definitely NOT “Gaysbian”

 

This entry was posted in Before You, Black Lesbians, Community Mobilizing, Connections, Creating awareness, Curative rapes, Daveyton, Death, Education, Exposure, Expression, Hate Crimes, Lesego Tlhwale, New Task Team, South Africa and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 2013 May 15: SA Task Team representatives fail the LGBTI community

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  7. zethu says:

    Thanks for your article Lesego. However, your piece does not seem to have all the facts about the process and the efforts made by each person who was in the task team. It might be a good idea to ask each of the people you’ve mentioned what their thoughts are and why many of them withdrew from the process. You will be quite encouraged to hear of the different efforts that many of the organisations have made in dealing with violence, without government support.

    Each of the individuals and organisations you mentioned have dedicated their time and efforts to the task team. Jill Henderson, may her soul rest in peace, and many others, were quite instrumental in ensuring that government responds to the many challenges that lgbti people face everyday, Various court cases in Cape Town testify to this and the wonderful work that local organisations have been doing. It is incorrect to say that people “have done nothing at all to play their role in all of this”.

    Not so long ago (on May 29th) Minister Jeff Radebe included lgbt issues as one of the priority areas when referring to his budget of the Sexual offences court. To be precise, he stated “We have adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards rape, violation of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other forms of violence targeted against our mothers and daughters,”. Two years ago, we never imagined this recognition. Your question, “what have we done as civil society to make sure that doesn’t happen?” is spot on. As members of civil society, we each have a role to play, whethere we are part of a task team or not. Rather than pointing fingers at others, see how many point back at you.

  8. sharonsrcv says:

    Hi Lesego
    I agree with what Zethu says. Much has been done by several organisations and individuals that you mention.
    I would suggest going on to Triangle Project’s Facebook Page :

    On 14 May, the following was posted:
    Below the full call released to the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development, requesting feedback on the status of the national task team. Will keep everyone posted regarding their response:

    A REQUEST FOR A GOVERNMENT COMMUNIQUE REGARDING THE STATUS OF THE DOJ & CD-LED NATIONAL TASK TEAM TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE AGAINST LGBTI PERSONS

    In May 2011 the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development established a National Task Team to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in South Africa, in response to local and international petitions and demands made to the Ministry of Justice to “recognise corrective rape against lesbians as a hate crime”. The Task Team, constituted of representatives from government departments, independent bodies and members nominated by civil society, has the purpose of developing, implementing and monitoring a joint intervention strategy to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons, especially in the courts and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. The Task Team has had many challenges and given these, the political legitimacy of the Task Team continues to be questioned by civil society and LGBTI communities. In order for the Task Team to move forward, a meaningful overview of past activities and a clear plan of action for the work that lies ahead are needed. As civil society organisations, we are deeply concerned about the lack of government communication regarding the status of the Task Team and the implications this has for implementing an effective response to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons.

    We, as representatives from civil society organisations, call on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to provide a communiqué regarding the progress of the Task Team in achieving its objectives and a clear plan of action for the work that lies ahead. Specifically, we call for:

    1. An overview of the activities and campaigns the Task Team has engaged in since May 2011
    1.1. When the Task Team was first established, civil society organisations submitted information on several cases of violence against LGBTI people that were in the justice system at that point for follow up. In an email sent on 08-08-2012, it was requested that Task Team members ‘… submit cases for LGBTI that are NOT finalised’. We have not received information on what actions were undertaken by the DoJ & CD in relation to these cases.
    1.2. The Government Communication and Information System was tasked with a bus and taxi campaign, including marketing the campaign at information desks, malls, and on billboards. Have any activities taken place related to this since June 2012?
    1.3. Research on court systems that Create Africa was commissioned to execute has been finalised. Nonetheless, the full report has yet to be shared with the Task Team members.

    2. An overview of the 2013 operational plan of the DoJ & CD as it relates to the Task Team, the anticipated role of civil society organisations in meeting the objectives of the plan, and the human and financial resources required to implement the operational plan
    2.1. The DoJ & CD previously made a commitment to appointing two personnel to the Task Team in order to strengthen the capacity of Task Team – a project manager and a project officer. Were these personnel appointed? If they were, how have they contributed in furthering the objectives of the Task Team?
    2.2. Discussion on the working streams as activities for the five-year implementation plan were inclusive of funding for this work. However, it remains unclear how far the process of securing funds for this project within the DoJ & CD has progressed and whether this has been finalised.
    2.3. Civil society organisations previously proposed that a communication channel be created between the Task Team and the Constitutional Review cluster within the DoJ tasked with preparing the Hate Crimes Bill. We continue to believe that there is value in doing so. One of the principal goals of the Task Team is to support and to help shape the government’s approach to combating hate crimes against LGBTI people (including policy and legislation). It seems a missed opportunity not to facilitate communication between the two structures.

    3. A reflection on the political will supporting the advancement of the objectives established for the Task Team.

    As civil society organisations we recognise the value of effective collaborative work with government departments to address gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons. Such violence represents the most blatant way to communicate to LGBTI persons that they are less than human and that their lives are expendable. The community and societal effects of gender- and sexual orientation-based violence are further reinforced when such violence is perpetrated with impunity. There is an urgent need to address the failings in the criminal justice system to respond to gender- and sexual orientation-based violence against LGBTI persons. An effective response requires commitment and decisive action and we call on the Department to provide a clear plan of action to this end.

    Sincerely,
    Ingrid Lynch (Primary contact)
    Advocacy and Lobbying Coordinator
    Triangle Project
    advocacy@triangle.org.za
    (021) 686 1475

    Supporting organisations/individuals: Graeme Reid (Director Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program, Human Rights Watch); Nomancotsho Pakade (GALA); Dawie Nel (Out); Phindi Malaza (Few); Nancy Castro-Leal (GALA); Juan Nel (Unisa).

    Several meetings have taken place. A two day meeting has just been concluded and this is the latest posting:
    *Feedback on the two-day workshop on the DoJ&CD-led National Task Team which Triangle Project attended earlier this week*

    1. Civil society organisations from the LGBTI sector (GALA, FEW, Triangle Project, OUT), representatives from the South African Human Rights Commission and the Foundation for Human Rights, as well as representatives from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) held a two day workshop on 11-12 June to address mechanisms to revive the urgent interventions to address violence against LGBTI persons.

    2. At the meeting the following was discussed:
    2.1 unresolved and pending cases involving against LGBTI persons;
    2.2 the NTT’s Terms of Reference;
    2.3 concerns of civil society organisations;
    2.4 interventions by DoJ&CD to date;
    2.5 the restructuring of DoJ&CD and transfer of the NTT from the Directorate of Vulnerable Groups to the Branch of Constitutional Development, to be led by the Chief Directorate of Human Rights of the DoJ&CD; and
    2.5 way forward.

    3. The following was agreed:
    3.1 the urgent revival of the NTT;
    3.2 the setting up of a rapid response team consisting of both DoJ&CD and CSO representatives on the issue of violence against LGBTI persons;
    3.3 a more effective communication strategy with inter alia, the broader civil society sector and LGBTI persons;
    3.4 public awareness and public education programmes; and
    3.5 an audit of sensitisation and education material to be used in training programmes for government stakeholders and other role players.

    Information on further developments will follow shortly and we hope civil society will join us in taking this critical work forward.
    For more information or comment please contact Ingrid Lynch at Triangle Project (advocacy@triangle.org.za) or Siphiwe Ntombela (Sntombela@justice.gov.za)

    Best regards
    Sharon Ludwig

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