Text by Lerato Dumse
Photos by Lindeka Qampi
When the casket carrying the body of Disebo Gift Makau (23), was lowered six feet underground at a Ventersdorp cemetery, in the North West, on August 23.
Family and friends who gathered in Tshing township to bid her goodbye, could not contain their emotions.
While some wailed uncontrollably, others shed their tears in silence, with pain, sorrow and sadness written on their faces.
Gift’s body was discovered in the middle of Women’s month, on August 15 by her neighbor in the yard where she was killed.
Speaking to mourners at the funeral, a relative Assah Molapo explained how he arrived on the scene to find Gift’s half naked and lifeless body, with a few other people gathered.
He narrated how the wire used while strangling Gift had punctured her skin and was still lodged inside her neck.
Adding that about 20cm of hose pipe was inserted in her mouth, tied with a shoe lace and left with water running inside her body.
A manhunt began leading to the suspect’s arrest days later.
Molapo said it was tracing Gift’s last steps that helped them to narrow down the suspect list.
Molapo revealed when the suspect’s mother realised her son was a suspect, she launched an investigation of her own in her house.
Leading to the discovery of a cell phone she didn’t recognize, which she handed over, and it was identified as belonging to Gift.
While the letter he (suspect) sent, after writing it to his mom while in jail, is expected to also be used in prosecuting him.
While Gift was due to have collected her diploma certificate in Business Management on the day her body was discovered.
What is also disheartening for Molapo when describing the scene, is the state of the grass and flowers which he said is an indication of the physical struggle that went on for a long time that fateful evening.
He said people’s failure to act by going to see what was happening or call the police when they heard Gift’s screams. He is inconsolable with the claim that people who were 5 meters away heard nothing, while those 70 meters away heard her cries.
Ward councilor, Mapule Mataboge was at the forefront in the uproar and condemnation for Gift’s murder. She said she has always had a close relationship with LGBTI people in her community who come to her for assistance when facing family problems and even relationship problems.
She remembered Gift as a child, always smiling and polite, even when she was being reprimanded.
Mataboge appealed to parents of LGBTI children to change their stereotypes, discrimination and calling their own children names.
Freddy Dunjane SAFA chairperson for the competition committee in Ventersdorp said Gift was the first female referee in Ventersdorp.
Gift played defense for her team Real Mighty Ladies, and was affectionately known as Owen by her teammates.
While Thabang Mangane president of the SRC at Vuselela FET said they would be marching to court to show support for Gift and ensure the suspect doesn’t get bail.
“Gays and lesbians are from our families, we must eat and laugh with them, not murder them,” added Mangane.