Tag Archives: LGBTI South Africa

Mandela’s Queer Legacy

From the Mail & Guardian, Phumi Mtetwa discusses Nelson Mandela’s role in facilitating LGBTI rights in South Africa through encouraging dialogue. However his contribution fell short as failed upset the social and economic structures at the  core of inequality.

“Oliver Tambo thetha noBotha akhulul’ Mandela / u Mandela azobusa… [Oliver Tambo speak to Botha to release Mandela to rule!"]

Many anti-apartheid activists of my generation sang this song, along with others. I can still feel the yearning for freedom, which we believed Nelson Mandela’s ascent to the presidency would bring.

And so, on the eve of his release, we marched and danced in the streets of KwaThema; the next day we watched on big screens as he walked out of prison, raising his fist. For many of us that was the first taste of how freedom felt — and our struggles seemed closer to an end.

On April 27 1994 we voted for the ANC and for Mandela as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. In May that year, on the occasion of the opening of Parliament, Mandela said: “We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.”

Encouraged by many calls to build a new South Africa, about 70 lesbian, gay and human rights organisations launched the South African National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (NCGLE) in Johannesburg in December 1994. This new formation had the objective of guaranteeing equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation, in the country’s new Constitution and legislation. The coalition’s strategy was informed by the diversity of its constituency and in recognition of all forms of oppression. It thus campaigned for equality for all.

This significant moment in the history of gay and lesbian organising in South Africa had its roots in the anti-apartheid struggles, in which many openly gay and lesbian people were active. It was also a moment for the majority in South Africa collectively to define the nature of the way  we relate to each other as a people, informed by a past filled with exclusion, oppression, discrimination and violence.

Discriminatory conditions
The wider ANC movement, at home and abroad, had been challenged to discuss homosexuality openly and explicitly, and to adopt policies that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The 1993 interim constitution had the equality clause, which recognised a range of discriminatory conditions and identities by means of which South Africans were excluded. Sexual orientation was one of them.

The coalition saw the significance of the ANC’s commitments to human rights, and of what Mandela implied in his presidential address in 1994: that the Bill of Rights, as endorsed by the ANC in 1990, encodes principles that “speak of a [an] … order in which, regardless of colour, gender, religion, political opinion or sexual orientation, the law will provide for the equal protection of all citizens.”

A coalition delegation (Simon Nkoli, British actor Sir Ian McKellen and myself) met President Mandela in February 1995, at the ANC’s then headquarters, to acknowledge the organisation’s commitment to equality, and to reiterate the importance of ensuring that it lived up to that commitment and presented the aspirations of many lesbian and gay people, organised as the NCGLE.

Mandela’s presidency was one of constitutional and legal reform. In 1996, when the final Constitution was adopted, we could continue to celebrate the equality clause and the Bill of Rights.

The NCGLE, until it was disbanded in 1999, then the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, and then the LGBTI Joint Working Group and their member organisations, worked on legal reforms such as the recognition of same-sex partnerships and marriage. This latter campaign was successful in 2006, when Parliament passed the Civil Union Bill. That is one instance of widely celebrated processes and results attributable to Mandela’s vision of South Africa as the “rainbow nation”.

Basis of sexual orientation
At the ANC’s 50th congress, in 1997, the party adopted a resolution opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This resolution drew on the party’s 1993 “Ready to Govern” document, which had included support for equality for LGBTI South Africans, committing the ANC to public representation of LGBTI people, and calling for ­programmes to counter anti-gay prejudice and to promote equality in the organisation.

The importance of these victories was huge. Many people came out. The oldest Pride march in Africa (Johannesburg’s) no longer included faces hooded with brown paper bags!

The legal gains helped to reverse discriminatory practices. Mandela became an important icon of the movement, in contrast to homophobic leaders such as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Namibia’s Sam Nujoma and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.

Mandela came from a political tradition that encouraged debate, and provided leadership of a kind seldom seen now in Africa. He lived up to his name, Dalibhunga — “convenor of the dialogue”. He courageously listened and positioned his views according to the principles he stood for, even if they were unpopular.

He knew there were threats to freedom and equality. He knew legislative changes would not eliminate social and economic oppression and exclusion. He did not, however, upset the political and economic structure at the core of inequality and, in turn, of rising homophobic and other violence, misogyny and other forms of scapegoating of the impoverished by the impoverished.

These are issues the ANC should address urgently to rectify the contradiction of advancing a sociopolitical vision such as Mandela’s without reconstructing the political-economic structure.

As a queer activist I will remember uTatu Dalibhunga for the dreams of freedom he symbolised. This, for me, offers renewed inspiration to continue to challenge neocolonialism and capitalism. I will defend South Africa’s Bill of Rights and struggle to make the government deliver on its promises. I will struggle against the hate waged against LGBTI people and nationals from other African countries who are living here. I will struggle against inequality, patriarchy, misogyny and racism. I will struggle against tribalism, nationalism and fundamentalism.

Many LGBTI people across the world celebrate Pride on the last weekend of June. In several South African cities and townships, Pride happens throughout the year! I hope that at all such events, with rainbow flags flying high, we celebrate one of the freedom movement’s greatest icons, and that we reflect and build on Mandela’s insight: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Phumi Mtetwa is a co-founder of the NCGLE and former executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project

Inkanyiso – “Let Your Voices be Heard”

From  Inkanyiso “Let Your Voices be Heard” by Charmain Carrol

Charmain Carrol
(14-02-2013)
Photo by Maureen Velile Majola

 

Given an opportunity to tell my story I will talk about where I’ve been and what I have done and the remarkable people I met along my journeys. This remains in my archived memories. It was an ardent path that any other youth might have gone through without much guidance and support from parents and relatives. One had to rely on strangers and friends who then became my extended family. People who loved and embraced me as their daughter, younger sister, who loved my daughter as theirs and fed me when there was no food on the table.

My name is Charmain (without an ‘e’). My surname is Carrol.  I’m a gender activist, a lesbian mother, a partner, a media activist, a homemaker, a writer, a motivational speaker, a counselor and facilitator. Currently I work for the bank as anExternal Sales Manager and part-time for Inkanyiso productions as a volunteer reporter and project administrator.

I was born on the 7th July 1977, Durban. KwaZulu Natal. Birthed by mixed parents, an Indian father and a Xhosa mother which makes be classified as colored according to the South African color bar. I don’t like that much but prefer to be just ‘Black’.
I speak English, Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaans.

You know it stunt me to see that some people will stand in front of me in the queue and gossip in Zulu assuming that I don’t hear them. I know that my long hair and complexion confuse them. Surprisingly I hear(d) them quite well. Sometimes I respond but most of the I just keep quiet. Worst of is when some lesbians assume that I’m a heterosexual women. Ok, I’m not.

I was raised in the Eastern Cape by my grandmother. My mother worked in Durban as a domestic worker and my father remained in Durban working as a Private Investigator for a private company. I was two months old when my parents separated. I’ve heard that my father was too violent towards my mother and she could not take it and left him. Later, my uncle told me that racial differences sparked that gender based violence. He was mixed race himself, born and grew up Qumbu. He was such a jealous man. That’s the men who met his mom at 16 and I met him when I was 9 years old for the first time. You can only imagine what does that do to an only girl child longing for paternal love. With all that said, my grandmother was there for me throughout. She mother, my father, my all.

I’m grateful to her for all the teachings she taught me. Unfortunately my gran died in 2007 at the age of 100 plus which was a blessing for a black family. After meeting my father, I was moved to Durban to be with my father and his other children (born by different mothers). It is where I attended coloured school in Wentworth. I was there until I was 17 years old. My father died in 1995, he was murdered. So all the children were returned to their mothers. My mom came for me as well, who I last saw at the age of 9 when she left and dropped me off at my father’s. In 1995 my mother was selling second hands clothes and own a shebeen in Philipi,
Cape Town.

I fell pregnant before my 18th birthday. I gave birth to Lynne my only daughter in 1996, Cape Town. I must confess that it was a natural birth with no complications even though my body tender or not matured enough. I was young and a teenager at that time.
I was not raped like how most lesbians would say to shun away from the fact that some of  us do not conceive due sexual assault or have the luxury of artificial insemination and other birthing processes. With that said my sexuality did come from  the point of abuse.
Period!   I’ve been intimate with women before I gave birth to my child and continued thereafter.  Hence, I won’t judge those who want to use the abuse or rape as means of protecting their sexual identities.  Different strokes for different folks. Amen to that!

My child has a father that she met later on in life just like I did with my own father.  Contact between them is not that good because he was not involved in her upbringing and maintenance — papgeld was a big issue like some men in South Africa who refuse to take responsibility of their offspring. I had to admit that we were both young and got involve in teenage sex without an understanding of the consequences. I then started working from an early age to support my child. My mother could not assist much because she had her own challenges. I don’t stop my daughter to be in contact with her father. She has a right to communicate with him. He also knows of his child’s existence. The guy is also fully aware of my lesbianism.

If I remember well my first encounter with same gender love was with my cousin sister who was a year older than me. She is a heterosexual woman with kids, probably do not recall what we did but I remember very well cause that excited me very much.
I will later narrate on how I fell pregnant which is a life story on it own!

Important people I met along the way

In 1996 I met Kali van der Merwe, filmmaker, who trained me in Media Activism and conducted Radio Training. She came to the Onsplek, which was a place of safety for girls in Albertus Str, Cape Town central. Where I lived for two years with my daughter because mother did not accept that I fell pregnant early.
Read more on:  Otherwise

The crew featuring Charmain Carrol (blue dress) and Funeka Soldaat (light yellow polo t-shirt)

The Inkanyiso crew featuring Charmain Carrol (blue dress) and Funeka Soldaat (light yellow polo t-shirt).                            Photo by Zanele Muholi. (2012 Dec. 8, Hector Pietersen Museum at the Iranti — 16 Days of Activism event)

Another person I was lucky to share my life with was Funeka Soldaat, gender activist, who guided and mentored me.
Soldaat is currently involve with Freegender -  now, but at that time she was working for Triangle Project.

Not forgetting Gabrielle le Roux, an art activist, who worked for Media Watch. Le Roux and van der Merwe taught us life skills, media skills and how to conduct interviews and deal with public related projects.

In 1998 I worked for Idol Pictures which was headed by Jack Lewis, filmmaker, producer and director, some of his productions is Siyanqoba/ Beat It! I did voice over for the Gugu Dlamini, HIV activist who was brutally murdered in December 1998, Durban for disclosing her HIV status.  After that I was later appointed by Media Watch…In 1999, I represented the gay and lesbian youth at International Lesbian Gay Association  (ILGA) conference held in Johannesburg, on behalf of UManyano, the defunct black lesbian organisation which was based in Khayelitsha…..Continue on Inkanyiso

 

Andiswa Dlamini [Interview]

Andiswa Dlamini

Andiswa Dlamini is a spoken word poet and performance activist from Durban, presently living in Cape Town. After spending some seven years writing and performing her own poetry, Andiswa felt she needed to expand her work by becoming more creative. Recently she began experimenting with drama as a way of exploring her own identity as a woman and as a butch lesbian and how both of these are triggers for homophobic violence. Much of Andiswa’s work deals with gendered and homophobic spaces, and the physical circumstances in which lesbians are threatened whilst young men are unimpeded in carrying out their acts of violence.

Her latest work is a monologue, “A Part of Me”. Originally she had set out to write a play in which she tries to embody the mindset of a man who thinks corrective rape is right. However she found the challenge too difficult particularly as she herself had not lived in the township.  It would therefore be dishonest to attempt to portray her sisters who walk within the shadows of rape and murder. Instead she chose to write a play where she interrogates herself and asks what it mean to be a woman and a butch lesbian?

There is a belief by young men, that we [butch lesbians] want to be men. The poem ‘I resent you’ was written to challenge this myth.

I am not a guy and no matter how ‘butch’ a ‘butch lesbian’ is they will always have a feminine side. Guys seems to think that we want to be guys – we don’t. So what is the point of trying to correct that which is not real.  When I sit alone I have my own thoughts. I know I am a woman. I have feminine qualities and no matter how hard they think I am ‘trying to be a man, I have so much of the female factor so no guy should walk around thinking I want to be a man.”

I asked Andiswa whether she thought that the use of the word ‘corrective’ hyphened with rape, had in itself begun to be problematic. My thoughts, not wholly convincing even to myself were, that by creating a category of rape in the context of specific kinds of homophobic expressions, and applying it to a specific sexual orientation and or gender identity had somehow made that form of rape acceptable to some degree. In other words where it is not acceptable to rape a woman, it is acceptable to rape a lesbian, particularly a butch lesbian, because they are not seen as having the same rights of citizenship or community belonging as other women. Her response was that the word itself made her angry and is one that needs closer examination including who makes the decision to use certain words.

“Just knowing that the word exists raises questions in my head. Like whoever decided we are going to name this ‘corrective’ rape and make it known; I feel like it’s been made OK [guys themselves use that word to justify the rapes] Its been put in a category of its own as if its normal. Now guys go around as if they can excuse themselves ‘ah no it’s correct’. I don’t feel like that’s how they should be framing it.”

There is no simple answer but categorizing actions can be a way of simplifying and reducing acts to component parts we somehow can then manage. In a way its too easy, especially if it prevents us from looking at what is behind the word.

Much of how Andiswa feels about her own identities and the responses of both her family and men in general is expressed through her poem “I resent you”.

“The poem came out of the research for my monologue. I had to ask my family about the reality of coming out seven years ago. How did they feel then and how do they feel now. What did they accept then and what don’t they accept now. My sister said something interesting. She knew that’s who I was so it wasn’t such a shock to her. But she asked, why do you have to act so tough ‘like a man’, like a protective brother. If you want to show of your legs why don’t you wear a skirt or dress? Then she asked why I resented guys so much. I wanted to find out why she thought this because she kept repeating it. This made me think about how I socialise with guys. I realised that no, I don’t resent all guys, only those who try to convince me that I made a bad decision as if my sexual orientation was a choice. I feel it is hard to sit down with some guys because you don’t know when they are going to start  attacking you.  How do you engage with such people? So basically it was an explanation to my sister.

There are elements of the poem I really like such as the line “You are weak and she is stronger than you and that can never change, because she never once question her inadequacy in this life

It’s my favourite line because I don’t walk around thinking there is something inadequate about me. I think I am a human being. I feel that in order for someone to rape me they must be feeling inadequate about themselves. So I feel that line is very powerful.”

A Dangerous Visibility – In memory of Thapelo Makhutle

“i’m sad, hurt, … just wrong
i really became overwhelmed by the whole experience.” [ZM]

On Friday, 15th June 2012  hundreds of family and friends  gathered  at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Kuruman, together to mourn the death of their son and comrade, Thapelo Makhutle.   In Kuruman, where Thapelo was murdered there was a protest and a memorial service attended by about 100 people.

On Saturday 16th June 2012,  some 500 people attended the funeral at his ancestral village of Bendel some 50 kilometers from Kuruman.  Kuruman is located in the far north of Northern Cape Province, not too far from the South African border with Botswana.  It is 250 kilometers from the diamond mining town of Kimberley. Kuruman with a population of 12,700, is an under resourced rural town with a small but visible LGBTI family.

The murder of Thapelo was the second homophobic hate crime in South Africa in just one week - Neil Daniels, 36 was found burned and mutilated on Monday 4th June 2012 in Milnerton in the Western Cape.  Nor was Thapelo’s murder the first in the Kuruman area.

Every life counts

According to the press statement by LEGBO NORTHERN CAPE (LGBTI SECTOR), a young lesbian was murdered  earlier this year in  Magojaneng village.   One of the first things that needs to be done here, is to publish the  name of the young woman together with  details of the crime and the subsequent investigation or rather lack of investigation.  This way she can be remembered in an appropriate manner and not remain a piece of data lost in the Northern Cape – almost like a second death.  We need to speak out as EVERY life counts irrespective of the a person’s self-identification or where the crime took place.

The following report is based on a series of Skype conversations over the past six days with Zanele Muholi. Zanele along with Funeka Soldaat of Free Gender and filmmaker and editor, Justin Davy traveled to Kuruman,  for the memorial service and funeral.   The three left Cape Town at 5am Friday morning to Kimberly.   Due to the lack of transport in the city, they had to arrange for someone to drive from Kuruman to pick them up – a round trip of over 500 kilometers. They arrived in Kuruman around midday.

The crime scene

Already there have been many news and personal reports on the crime.  As expected there are variations and contradictions.  These are the things we would expect the police to investigate and sift truth from faction. In any event these are Zanele’s thoughts based on what she was told and observed

Thapelo was found by a friend in the room he rented at Seodin, lying on the floor under a blanket with his throat slit and his genitals removed.  It was at the mortuary they found his tongue cut out and his testicles stuffed into his mouth.   On Saturday afternoon, 16th June 2012, hardly a week after the murder the crime scene was unprotected meaning that people were able to move in and out of the room without knowing what damage to evidence all this is doing.  According to those who visited the scene that afternoon, they do not believe that Thapelo was killed in his room as thinking about how he was mutilated the blood would have been all over the room and stained the pink walls. It is a mystery that the walls dividing the rooms are shallow but the neighbours in the next room and beyond said they heard only voices talking but no screams or shouting. Nothing that would indicate the level of brutality that took place that early morning. How could one person have done this thing.

“I have been to a lot of crime scenes and you know when you enter the place you get shivers, like goose bumps and we studied the place and I wonder if the police were really thorough! This is a painful and complicated case and somebody out there will have to speak out. They cannot deal with it, its too painful!.

Also since Kuruman and the nearby places are rural, most of the area is under resourced and lets say traditional spaces it is quite possible that other unreported hate crimes against lesbians and gay men have taken place.  These crimes might have been perceived as minor until we got to know of Thapelo Makhutle’s killing- so this is something we must now investigate to get a proper picture of this place.”

Speaking as a human being now before anything else, the perpetuators and victims are born my mothers and fathers and I think the issue of hate crimes now needs parental intervention  Speaking for myself as I dont want to speak for others – these hate crimes are beyond the powers of the LGBTI  communities.’

June 16th .  

There are historical connections which can be made between times and spaces of celebration and remembrance and times of hate crimes and pain. June 16th is a time claimed by South Africans as a time to remember the struggles of Apartheid and specifically the Soweto Uprising of 1976.  What does it mean that these deaths and funerals take place at a time when South Africa is supposed to be remembering past struggles for freedom?

“If I had stayed in Cape Town I would have wasted my time to celebrate this June 16.  The saddest thing is that during this week, we find ourselves standing at the cemetery baring the coffin of a young gay man of 24 years old due to a  hate crime”

In April 2011, Noxolo Nogwaza from KwaThema, Springs was brutally killed in Tsakane. She left behind two young children. A year later, her killers are still at large.  Eudy  was also killed in April 2008, the anniversary month of the first free post Apartheid elections. I try to juxtapose these two deaths and when they happened. Is this how we are supposed to remember these special or supposedly special days?

Busi who also survived a hate crime was buried during March 2007 – March is supposed to be human rights month.   So these young people who are barely in their 30s are being killed and the question is who will be the next and will it happen before the mothers and the fathers of the perpetrators speak?”

The protest and memorial took place on Friday 15th 2012.

“In the evening we returned to the B& B and tried to process everything that had taken place because we really wanted to know what exactly happened.  I felt I needed to return to the crime scene because it forms part of my  QueerCide documentary work.  This story has been written, so many versions in the newspaper but I wanted to find out from those at  the crime scene – what did they see, what did they do.  It is then that you realise the need for media advocacy workshops so people know how to report and who to report these matters too, there in Kuruman and other places.  We need to teach these things especially as the police are not doing much and do they even have the resources in places like Kuruman and the villages!  Photos and video footage at the time of discovery for example may have helped the police and at least let the world know what happened here.  People cannot just be gay theres a need  to learn how to document with video, cell phone or whatever”.


The memorial and funeral service

“Thapelo was open, he was open and visible.  He had a supportive family and lived within a supportive structure.  The chief spoke at the funeral and there was nothing homophobic at the funeral. Queer, gay and lesbian and trans people were open and all treated very well by the family and everyone who was there.  LGBTI individuals were even called forward,  if someone wanted to speak they spoke, they were given a chance.  It was not hidden.  We were safe and the family knew who their son was not because of his death but as he lived.  Positive words were spoken about Thapelo and he was presented and thought of with love from everyone who attended. “

Time of the mothers! 

These crimes have gone beyond theorising – hate crimes, curative rape might be theoretical terms to those who do not speak the language.   Now we have to look to the mothers  before anyone else. And we are all mothers – it is not only those who have physically given birth who are mothers, as Zanele points out

 “As Thapelo, [24] he would have been a child I gave birth too at high school. I would have lost my child”  - it is mothers of victims and survivors, of perpetrators who have to speak to each other. We (lesbian, women, girl child) cannot always be afraid to talk with men. We cannot always be afraid to express ourselves even at funerals.  I dont know why we keep on having to talk about these things as theories and rely on reports from the government and NGOs when the problem that is decaying our community take place within and in front of us – it is too painful.”

And now what happens?

The way we speak about these acts of violence – rapes, verbal abuse, murder, mutilation has to change.   The terms hate crime / curative rape are theoretical and legal terms which is fine in those theoretical and legal spaces. But people at ground level need to engage in intimate conversations where they speak words that no one really wants to speak or has dared to speak in the past.   Each of us,  those intimately entwined with the communities where violence takes place and those of us at various places outside, all have to take responsibility for teaching, informing and learning.

We also need to find different ways to tell these stories as writers, visual artists, performers.  How can we find a way to bring each one of these 23 people back to life.  And for each of the 23 people we should add their families and friends also as victims and survivors because only then will we fully grasp  the magnitude of the QueerCide which is taking place in South Africa.

It seems to me that these murders have their own particular meaning in relation to other crimes in that they are communal crimes – in most cases the murderers and rapists are known to the victims and survivors and possibly others in the neighbourhood.  This is an important point when thinking about how to speak of these things.  In order to kill so intimately surely one must find a way to disconnect. One possible way to do this is to disassociate yourself with the victim, to render them as other – we know enough about killing to know it ‘s always easier to kill ‘them’ rather than kill ‘ourselves’. If this is the case, then there are neighbourhoods of people who are disconnected from each other.  Places where people look at others but do not see themselves – as Zanele asks in her installation “What dont you see when you look at me?”. Clearly some people do not see themselves and it is here that the connection or reconnection needs to take place.  I have resorted to my own theorising but in this instance I believe it is a starting point for a conversation – What DO YOU see when you look at me…..?

Isilumo Siyaluma: An artist responds to rape


Isilumo siyaluma (2006-2011) by Zanele Muholi

 

 

It started as a thumb print

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isilumo siyaluma is a Zulu expression that can be loosely translated as “period pains/ periods pain”. Additionally, there is an added meaning in the translation that there is something secretive in and about this blood/“period in time.”   At one level, my project deals with my own menstrual blood, with that secretive, feminine time of the month that has been reduced within Western patriarchal culture as dirty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a deeper level then, my menstrual blood is used as a vehicle and medium to begin to express and bridge the pain and loss I feel as I hear and become witness to the pain of ‘curative rapes’ that many of the girls and women in my black lesbian community bleed from their vaginas and their minds……Zanele

 

Abamangalelwa ebhokini yenkantolo – The defendants in the dock



Ummeli – The Judge

 

My first tampon aged 13 was covered in vaseline.  We [school friends] wanted to be grown up and couldn’t wait to bleed so we stuck them up our precious anyway.   At boarding school in England we called it “the curse” and “it happened” every two weeks to avoid swimming in the freezing damp.    After saving my life “the curse” came to an inglorious end destroyed by the poison of chemotherapy.  I have no regrets.  The violation started well before the days of the blood sending my small precious into a bloating sag of dark red and blue.   Tears blood and snot curled up like a foetus praying for rebirth.   That was the real beginning………Sokari

 

A mother’s cry

 

Intshantshambo” A seed was planted in the earth and so became a flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afterwards Women Spoke

 

 



 

 

 

Free Gender

Updates on hate crimes -

Remembering Zoliswa Nkonyana, South African lesbian who was murdered on 4th of Feb 2006.

 Zoliswa Nkonyana, was murdered on the 4th February 2006 by a mob of 20 men.  5 years later her case has been postponed 25 times and still has not been resolved.   

So many lesbians have been raped and murdered but their stories barely become news worthy.   It’s ironic that in South Africa where LGBTI people have constitutional protection therefore can be regarded as being in a different space from for example Uganda. But the still the violence against Black lesbians and trans women continues to happen and to go unreported.   

Zoliswa will be remembered today in Khayelitsha, Cape Town by her family, friends and colleagues. 


Sentencing of confessed murderer of Eudy Simelane

Four men were tried for the murder and rape of Eudy Simelane at the Delmas Circuit Court last week. LGBTI activist and supporters from other social movements in South Africa were also there to give witness to the trial. One of the accused pleaded guilty to murder but not rape and was sentenced to 32 years. The other defendents will appear on the 29th July 2009. Obviously this is disappointing but more so was the statement by the judge in sentencing Thato Petrus Mpithi,

“no significance” in Mpithi’s crime, he failed to recognise that lesbians do face rape and murder in South Africa.

Continue reading the full report on the trial below.

February 11 to 13 saw the first days into the trial of murdered lesbian soccer player, Eudy Simelane, at the Delmas Circuit Court. Four men, aged between 18 and 24 were to appear before Judge Moses Mavundla on the charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and rape

On February 10, a bus load of activists left Kwa-Thema (Gauteng) to ‘camp’ in Delmas (Mpumalanga) for the duration of the trial. Another bus left the next morning [and the two days after] in the early hours of the morning from the same township to participant in the court proceedings.

They were joined by activists from different social movements, notably LGBTI Joint Working Group members, the Treatment Action Campaign, the National Association of People living with AIDS, and the African National Congress from Delmas, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Germiston, Witbank and over a dozen from other provinces in the country. International solidarity was received from activists, joining the crowd attending court in calling for an end to hate and justice for Eudy.

Continue reading

Lawyers from across Africa gather to discuss LGBT rights

LGBTI activists and lawyers who have been working on LGBT rights met in South Africa to discuss a number of high profile cases on the continent such as the arrest of 11 Cameroonians in 2005, the continued arrest of 18 men on sodomy charges in Northern Nigeria and the Ooyo and Mukasa v. Attorney General of Uganda in their successful challenge on the violations of their rights.

Lawyers, activist leaders and donors attending the meeting acknowledged the importance of impact litigation for repealing sodomy laws and challenging other discriminatory statutes and policies.

Such litigation however needs to be situated within the context of local, national and regional LGBT groups.

Participants discussed the need for security for lawyers defending LGBT clients and causes. Many of the lawyers at the meeting had faced attacks on their reputations, attempts at disbarment, and even physical violence…… Continue reading