by Jeremiah Sepotokele*
Hate crimes have destroyed many lives and communities in South Africa today.
As we reflect on lives that have been affected, the tragic story of the late Duduzile Zozo continues to haunt me. It is no secret that our queer youth have fallen victims of disturbing hate crimes, particularly black lesbians in the townships.
As I locate myself within this reality with considerable trepidation, I am confronted to explore some of the ways in which we (as queer youth) can equip ourselves at the height of these crimes. I have had discussions with a couple of my colleagues and the role of education seems to be brought up in many of our engagements.
So with this article I am hoping to connect (at least) how education can be instrumental to queer youth in particular as common victims of violence in this country.
Education as ammunition can always be overemphasized as a form of empowerment of our youth and asserting themselves in society.
However, it is against the socio-economic reality in which the level of engagement this discussion takes. It is therefore important to admit that the queer youth of this country are placed in different social structures which are inherently unequal as much as they face similar struggles as a collective. This then affords us to look at education and the extent of its effect as far as empowerment is concerned, in a way that makes a reflection on the increasingly failing education system and ridiculous corruption rates. So it gets a lot stickier than one could ever imagine, but as queer youth what then remains the solution?
I may not have all the answers but I do not think the answer lays necessarily in the administrative formal education system. Moreover, I also do not think in light of the prevailing hate crimes against our bodies would the unilateral effort of empowering ourselves through education be significant in combating these evils.
Hate crimes are a reality and a general social problem which affects not only specific individuals in our communities but it is of public interest.
Therefore this calls for legislative, executive, judicial and private/personal action in order to confront and effectively deal with hate crimes.
So it is a collective societal responsibility and education (through formal or activist avenues) can only be effective in addressing misinterpretations of the queer identity by mainstream institutions.
About the author
*Jeremiah Sepotokele is a 3rd year LLB student at the School of Law, Wits University.
He is an Editorial Associate at the Wits Student Law Journal for Southern Africa and a Teaching Fellow at the South African Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative.