by Lerato Dumse
A wolf in sheep’s skin, Anele Mhlawuli (24) lured a young woman into a trap with the aim of proving a point to her. She opened a case against him and he will spend the next six years behind bars with a further four years suspended sentence.
It was in 2009 when Zukiswa Gaca, then 20 years old, decided to go out with friends one evening in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Anele came up to her and proposed but she declined explaining that she’s lesbian. He pretended that he understood, saying he had lesbian friends. They continued with their evening in peace and even accompanied him to a friend’s place.
Leading to a dramatic turn of events. He confessed that he actually hates lesbians. She was told that, “she is not the man she carries herself as”, attempts to explain that she is not a man, just ‘lesbian’ proved futile. He expressed “to show her that he is a man and has more power than her.”
On Monday the 9th of September 2013, a sentence was handed down at the Khayelitsha Magistrate Court. Nearly four years after the horrific evening, which led her to lie across a railway track, hoping to end her life and being pulled out in the nick of time saving her life.
Zukiswa admits that her emotional scars will never fade. The case was long and she was tempted to give up at times but the thought of her attacker walking free motivated her to seek justice. Although she is not satisfied with the sentence, she’s happy the case is finalized and she won’t be seeing Anele for a long time.
Zukiswa says she received support from Freegender an organization that challenges homophobia and hate crimes in the black townships of Cape Town. She adds that her case was only taken seriously, after her story was published by CNN. “It was mostly Funeka Soldaat from Freegender who played a huge role in ensuring that the case goes forward and was there for me until the end” adds Gaca.
Funeka remembers how they had problems with the police and the secondary victimization of survivors. Part of their advocacy and activism was to focus on police stations and have since established clusters with the police.
“We have 7 cases, some not yet in court at the Nyanga cluster and a further
17 cases at the Khayelitsha cluster and all are already in court.”
Those cases range from murder, rape and assault. Freegender was also instrumental in the case of Nontsikelelo Tyatyeka whose body was found in a bin.
Soldaat says working on Zukiswa’s case was a learning curve for Freegender “these cases drag on and are a long process. When driving your own agenda like we do as organizations you need to do it without any anger. If you shout at the police they don’t take you seriously. However if you apply dignity and respect then that takes you somewhere.”
Asked what she would have wanted the sentence to be?
Zukiswa responded by saying “I would have requested that a life sentence be imposed because we are not safe with people like him in our society.”
Previous by Lerato
2013 July 14: Zozo’s family silenced by ‘mourners’