by Lesego Tlhwale
As the LGBTI community in South Africa on the 1st July 2013, we were woken up by news of the brutal murder of one of our own; Duduzile Zozo, a 26 year old lesbian from Thokoza, East of Johannesburg.
Daily Sun, a local tabloid newspaper reported that, “The 26-year-old’s half-naked body was found in her kasi in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni yesterday morning (30 June 2013).”
The newspaper further stated that, “a toilet brush was rammed into the deceased vagina.”
Captain Godfrey Maditsi who was also interviewed by the paper, confirmed the news and told daily sun that “A murder case has been opened and we ask the community to come forward with any information that could help put those responsible behind bars.”
However, Maditsi said that, “the cops couldn’t confirm whether Duduzile Zozo was raped or not. They could only confirm that a toilet brush was rammed into her vagina as they found it still inside.”
Her mother, Thuziwe Zozo, told the paper that she suspected that her daughter was killed because of her sexuality: “She was a lesbian but never had any problems before. People loved and appreciated her.”
The case of Duduzile Zozo, like many other lesbian cases caught the attention of the media, as most of local and international media ran with the story.
Since reports of the gruesome murder made headlines locally and internationally, we have since seen political parties and other civil society organisations releasing statements condemning the brutal murder of the young lesbian.
COSATU’s Patrick Craven said in a statement, “COSATU is outraged at the continuing high level of violence against women and girls, and demands that no effort be spared to arrest whoever was responsible for this despicable murder, and that the courts impose an exemplary sentence.”
The Democratic Alliance Shadow Deputy Minister of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities (DWYCPD), Helen Lamoela also released a statement expressing The DA’s is shock and sadness by reports of the brutal rape and murder of Duduzile Zozo.
DA stated that, “Government is not doing nearly enough to eradicate the scourge of violence against women and children in South Africa.”
The DA went further on to criticize the progress of the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence based within the DWYCPD formed over six months ago and the silence of the LGBTI National Task Team which was formed two years ago by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Helen Lamoela said, “DA will submit parliamentary questions to the Department of Justice to query the progress of this task team. We will also request that the National Council Against Gender-Based Violence be summoned to Parliament to present progress made on its plans and programmes to curb violence against women and children in South Africa.”
The murder of Duduzile happens just a week after Amnesty International released a report called ‘Making Love a Crime: Criminalisation of Same-sex conduct in Sub Saharan Africa’.
The report highlighting violence, homophobia and laws targeting LGBTI people in Sub Saharan Africa, with particular focus on Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon and South Africa.
Amnesty International reported on the plight of black lesbians in South Africa.
The report stated that, “Taunts, insults and threats are a constant reality and are in fact so common that many LGBTI people do not even recognize them as a form of violence. Sexual assault and other physical attacks against LGBTI people are also all too common. Lesbians, and LGBTI people who do not conform to culturally approved models of femininity and masculinity live in fear of being assaulted, raped and murdered by men”.
Amnesty International over the past few months have partnered with Ekhuruleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) an LGBTI organization based in Ekhuruleni, a township which now known to the lesbian community as a hot spot for lesbian rape and murder.
Both organisations have been working together in making sure that the case of Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24 year old lesbian activist who was brutally murdered in Kwa-Thema two years ago, is investigated and perpetrators brought to book.
According to Bontle Khalo of EPOC, “Amnesty International has been campaigning to ensure that Noxolo’s murder is investigated thoroughly and effectively, so that those found to be responsible may be brought to justice.”
Furthermore, Amnesty International has been running a campaign locally and internationally calling for Justice for Noxolo. These campaigns have been running since May 2012, and they have targeted local and provincial police authorities, as well as the Gauteng Premier.
In recent developments of the campaign, Amnesty International has been lobbying for legislation to combat hate crime, legislations that would compel the police to compile statistics of lesbian and gay murders and rapes.
“Hate-crime laws would improve the policing and judicial response to such crimes and help develop effective mechanisms to monitor such crimes”, stated the report.
The case of Noxolo Magwaza that Amnesty International is working on is one of many murder cases that have been under-investigated in Ekhuruleni.
There’s the case of Girly Nkosi who was murdered in 2009, Nokuthula Radebe murdered in 2011, and Patricia Mashigo murdered 2013 and many others which were not reported or are unknown to me.
The aforementioned cases, represent only those murdered in Ekhuruleni alone, South Africa has many more neglected cases of LGBTI people who were murdered for being homosexuals.
The fraction of statistic mentioned shows how little the police authorities are working on making sure that the cases are diligently investigated and perpetrators arrested.
It took the South African Justice System six years and 30 court appearances, for 19 year old Zoliswa Nkonyana’s 2006 murder case to be concluded and her killers sentenced.
The brutal killing of vulnerable LGBTI individuals is extreme, merely releasing a statement condemning the act is not enough; the LGBTI community needs actions, Interventions, and legislations to be put in place in order to combat these barbaric acts.
There is an urgent need for educational programmes and awareness campaigns to address the attitudes and biases that lead to these hateful crimes.
South African townships are no longer safe for lesbians, every day a black lesbian wonders if they are NEXT?.
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