text by Lerato Dumse
photos by Thekwane Bongi Mphisholo
“I’m disappointed with men, instead of protecting women, we are the ones abusing them with our hands and taking advantage of them. Don’t forget us Dudu, because we loved you and never judged you.”
Those were emotional sentiments shared by Mphikeleli Miya, during the funeral service of his friend Duduzile Zozo who was murdered in Thokoza, East of Johannesburg.
Zozo’s life was snatched from her two weeks ago on 30th of June in a suspected hate crime. Due to the family’s destitute situation they were forced to rely on donations to arrange the burial and delayed the funeral.
Parents, Thuziwe Zozo and Mandla Hadebe sat with their heads bowed for most of the funeral, as if not to see what was happening around them.
If you were at Zozo’s funeral service at Church Hall, Khumalo Street, Thokoza on 13th of July 2013, you probably got a free t-shirt with Dudu’s face printed on the front. The colours varied from yellow to white, some with colour picture, while others were black and white.
What the t-shirts have in common is that they were donated and distributed by local political parties. The South African ruling party African National Congress (ANC) and the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) were at arm length each party support was dodgy no one knows how genuine that was. Instead of the budget t-shirts the parties concerned should have saved the money and provide a warm home to the Zozo’s who are currently renting a shabby shack in someone’s yard, which happened to be diagonal opposite (about 50m) from where Dudu’s dead body was found exactly two weeks ago.
Hundreds of community members, family, friends colleagues and lgbti community came to bid farewell to the 26 year old. I want to include that it was really not “fair” because the family was not granted enough time to express their grievances. The reason might be for the fact that they were desperate to bury Dudu.
Tensions ran high while speakers of the ANC addressed mourners, particularly the lgbti community who came in droves. They accused the ANC of being opportunistic and only showing concern in light of the nearing national elections next year.
Chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in Ekurhuleni Lindi Khonjelwayo, assured the lgbti people that the ANC is not ashamed of them. She said that the women’s league viewed victimization on lesbians as victimization on them.
She lashed at the DA for their sudden concern for lgbti people. “We must not allow to be utilized by opportunism, DA formerly National Party did not see it necessary to legalize your constitutional rights as the lgbti when they ruled. They must not come here and politically grandstand, taking pictures as if they care because they never cared.”
When the ANC regional secretary in Ekurhuleni, Tshilidzi Munyai followed on stage. He urged those involved to work together and fight crime.
“We must not take the law into our own hands, but allow the justice system to do their job”.
This only aggravated the crowd even more and just when things seemed to be getting out of control. Zanele Muholi with camera still in hand reminded lesbians that they are the ones getting raped in the townships. Black lesbians in the hall don’t allow people to set your agenda. Muholi continue, “Let us do away with power struggles and remember that we are here to pay respect to the Dudu. If people are too concerned they should help the family to make ends ‘meet’ as we all aware of the financial constraints that they are facing. What’s the use of coming together and singing these struggle songs when we are not willing to bring about change in our own communities,” said in an exasperated voice.
The ongoing tensions between the lgbti groups and the contingent of male friends was also evident at the cemetery. The two groups were facing each other separated by the grave made a point of singing different songs.
While people stood around the grave and next to the media cameras, blocking any chance of Dudu’s family seeing her coffin go down for the last time. The pastor ordered for her coffin to be lowered inside the grave. As it started to slowly but surely go down, cameras zoomed and flashed capturing the last moments of Dudu above the soil.
Mourners then made their way back to Zozo’s home. Looking much calmer, people were surrounded by alcohol in a tradition known as after tears. It is a pity that all that jubilation took place at a neighbours yard across the road from the crime scene. One would assume that the ‘after’ mourners were not aware of the brutal space. So far Dudu’s mother and the family have not received any counseling to deal with the trauma or the loss of their beloved.
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