Victim of hate

14 June 2011 - 10:25 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
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Lesbian Noxolo Nkosana thought she would die when she was stabbed four times by men who accused her of stealing their girlfriends.

And Nkosana's neighbours say she deserved what she got.

The horrific assault was only a few days before the Department of Justice's meeting with gay and lesbian organisations to find a solution to the scourge of attacks on lesbians.

Nkosana, 23, was getting out of a car on Friday night, returning to her home in Crossroads, near Cape Town, after work, when two men, both Crossroads residents, approached.

"They called to me but I didn't respond. Then they said: 'Hey you! F***ing tomboy!'," she said.

"I kept quiet. When I looked back, one of them was coming for me. He stabbed me twice in the back and I fell down. While my partner screamed for help, he stabbed me two more times."

As Nkosana nursed her wounds yesterday, men in the poor settlement where she grew up said it was wrong for two women to be lovers.

Siyabonga Ngxaki, 22, said lesbians were setting children a bad example.

"This community does not accept it and they are not a good example to the kids. They should hide what they are doing because the kids will emulate them. I don't want my baby girl to see them," he said.

High school pupil Mzukisa Tsholoba, 18, agreed. "How can people of the same gender be in a relationship? They can do whatever they are doing elsewhere, not here."

But Mandla Zolekile, 56, a father of five, said that, though he would throw his child out of the house if she were a lesbian, lesbians should not be attacked because of their sexual preference.

"Yes, we are not used to gays and lesbians but one should not be harmed or killed because of their choices. It's a democratic country. What they choose to do with their lives is their problem," he said.

Nkosana's sister, Zanele Stamper, seethed with rage yesterday and vowed to take the law into her own hands.

"As the family, we don't have a problem with her being a lesbian. Our problem is men attacking lesbians," she said.

Ndumi Funda, director of gay rights group Luleki Sizwe, said the group would meet Justice Department officials in parliament tomorrow. The department has charged the organisation with co-ordinating the formation of a team to fight homophobic crime.

The meeting follows the group's discussions with the department after the brutal rape and murder in April of lesbian Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, in KwaThema, on the East Rand.

The mother of two was stoned to death. Her body was found on the soccer field on which the body of Banyana Banyana soccer player Eudy Simelane was found in 2008.

Simelane had been stabbed 25 times.

The Luleki Sizwe group wants the government to declare "corrective rape" - so called because the perpetrators claim that they want to "correct" their victim's sexual preference - a hate crime. It also wants harsher sentencing.

Marlow Newman-Valentine, deputy director of rights group Triangle Project, said gender-based violence has "increased dramatically" but the government's programmes often excluded lesbian and gay issues.

He said the rape of black lesbians was not new.

"The reality is that many women are still dependent on men and will gravitate towards a heterosexual relationship for security, safety and survival, often denying who they are in terms of their sexual and gender identity.

"They often receive secondary discrimination from service providers such as the police and healthcare facilities because many believe that it is un-African or unnatural to be gay."

  • The family of Zoliswa Nkonyana, killed by nine men in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, for being openly lesbian, is still waiting for justice five years after her death. Her case has been postponed 35 times.
  • In February, a 13-year-old lesbian from Atteridgeville, near Pretoria, was a victim of "corrective rape".

- Additional reporting by Andile Ndlovu

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