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
2013 April 12: Bros B4 Ho’s at the OIA film festival opening
2013 March 24: Recognition of LGBTI Activist should be a culture
2013 March 16: Dangerous love
2013 Feb. 12: A dildo is not a man; it’s a fantastic toy…
2013 Mar.1: Definitely NOT “Gaysbian”