Nkonyana got her justice but the threat continues
The Times Editorial: Zoliswa Nkonyana has finally received justice though it has been an unacceptably long wait for it to arrive.
Yesterday, the four killers of Nkonyana were sentenced to 18 years each in the Khayelitsha Regional Court, but it has taken a slow and protracted six years for them to be punished for their crimes - beating, stabbing and kicking a young woman to death because she was openly living as a lesbian.
The Nkonyana case has opened a window to a rather brutal reality in South Africa - that justice is often selectively dispensed and that our society does not reflect the constitution by which it should live.
The court case, for instance, had been postponed about 50 times, it had been marred by accusations of shoddy police work, the main witness had been threatened and four of the accused had escaped from their holding cells after bribing a police officer.
As the Social Justice Coalition pointed out yesterday, the problems with the Nkonyana case are not isolated.
"Having monitored a number of criminal cases in Khayelitsha over the last few years, our organisations maintain that such issues as experienced in Nkonyana's case are not isolated but represent a much greater problem," the coalition said.
In some ways, Nkonyana's family and friends were fortunate because they had the coalition, and other organisations, to ensure that she was not forgotten. But there is a greater tragedy in all of this that says so much of our country.
It lies in the fact that it remains a huge risk for many South Africans to openly live as gays and lesbians. Tragically, Nkonyana's murder illustrated the chasm that exists between our fine constitution and the brutish reality of our society, where being different can result in death.
Homosexuality might not be outlawed in this country but some of our countrymen's behaviour makes us no different from openly homophobic countries such as Uganda and Zimbabwe.