Varsity in 'gaybashing' row

31 October 2012 - 02:22 By NASHIRA DAVIDS
A gay couple holding hands. File Photo.
A gay couple holding hands. File Photo.

At the entrance of a student residence named after one of this country's most famous freedom fighters, Chris Hani, a crowd gathered to watch the bloody beating of a transgender student.

A security guard working for the University of the Western Cape allegedly stood passively by, seemingly dismissive of the attack, on Sunday morning.

Now Glenton Matthyse, a cross-dresser, law student and gay rights activist, has had enough of homophobic and "transphobic" behaviour on campus.

Matthyse and two other transgender students were injured when they tried to fight off the three attackers.

Matthyse said one of the attackers grabbed one of his friends from behind.

"She fell to the ground and then he dragged her for 2m from the entrance and began a severe physical assault," said Matthyse.

"His two friends pitched in and assisted in assaulting her. I tried to stop them and so did my friends. My legs were covered in blood after they were done with her. We were no match for them."

Matthyse claimed security staff allowed the perpetrators into the building to hide.

The drama started on Saturday night at the university's pub, where Matthyse and his friends - all members of Gayla-UWC - were forced to use the men's toilet.

While in drag, Matthyse was groped by a man, and patrons hurled insults at them.

"We were being called 'moffies', 'faggots', and izitabane."

The insults continued when they returned to the residence where the beating took place.

University spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said an investigation was under way.

"[The university] does not condone violence or approve of action that discriminates against any person's constitutional rights," said Tyhalibongo.

He said campus security and other staff stopped the fighting and, while some students fled the scene, Gayla members verbally abused the guards.

He accused the Gayla-UWC members of being unruly and in a "drunken state".

Tyhalibongo said that, because of the Gayla members' condition, the police could not take statements from them and open a case.

Matthyse denied being unruly.

"A Constable Smith, from Bellville South police station, grinned and chuckled when I tried to explain what had happened.

"When we asked him about this he said it was a form of 'stress relief'.

"Everyone said we were being hysterical - but rightfully so, considering what had just transpired. We had just been assaulted," said Matthyse.

Matthyse said he felt that campus security was ignoring his concerns and those of his friends.

The three students are living in fear - not knowing when their attackers will return to finish what they started.