Activists push for change as accused in Siam Lee murder appears in court

11 April 2019 - 08:36 By Orrin Singh
Siam Lee was beaten and burnt to death in January 2018.
Siam Lee was beaten and burnt to death in January 2018.
Image: Supplied

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering 20-year-old escort Siam Lee is due to make a brief appearance in the Durban High Court on Thursday.

The 30-year-old businessman, who cannot be named, faces a raft of charges following Lee’s disappearance and murder - including for the rape of another woman. 

He is expected to be met with a wave of protesters calling for the abolition of prostitution in South Africa. 

Kwanele, a survivor-led movement, has written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa following the news that the government is looking into decriminalising sex work. Members of Kwanele are expected to read out the letter outside court before proceedings get under way.

On March 28, Ramaphosa revealed that the government and its partners were working to review existing laws and policies that relate to gender-based violence and femicide to determine if these were still adequate. He was addressing an audience in Oakdene, Johannesburg.

"We will finalise the outstanding legislation, such as the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, and victim support services," said the president.

"We will work with all stakeholders to develop policy around the decriminalisation of sex work," he added. 

Members of Kwanele are also expected to embark on a march from the Durban High Court to Durban Central police station, where a memorandum of understanding will be handed over to SAPS demanding investigations into brothels around the city.