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Human Rights Watch asks justice ministry how SA is curbing attacks on LGBTI individuals

20 January 2022 - 13:20 By TimesLIVE
Human Rights Watch wants to know if recommendations to curb attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals are being implemented by government.
Human Rights Watch wants to know if recommendations to curb attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals are being implemented by government.
Image: Loren Elliott/Reuters

As the North West university held a memorial service for its slain social media officer Sam Mbatha, Human Rights Watch asked government for information on legal and social interventions it has taken to address crimes against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

Mbatha, 24, was one of 20 people murdered in the nine months from February to October last year recorded by MambaOnline, a gay activism and news website.

DNA results verified his identity earlier this month and led to the arrest of four suspects. Police discovered the body of a man inside a burnt out Hyundai i20 at a soccer field in Ikageng section, Klipgat in June. He was believed to have been attacked with an axe in a nearby house.

On Wednesday, his colleagues paid tribute to him, deploring the “barbaric, brutal, callous and inhumane” manner in which he died. They described Mbatha as a practising Christian, a person who was “full of energy”, passionate about his career in digital marketing and a much-loved personality on campus who could walk into a room and “command” it with his presence.

Graeme Reid, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBTI rights programme, penned an open letter to the justice and constitutional development ministry expressing concern at the number of people killed or violently assaulted over the past year in circumstances that suggest their sexual orientation or identity was the reason they were targeted.

Asking for information on steps taken to investigate and prosecute the killers of LGBTI people in 2021, he queried which measures had been implemented by the National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-based Violence Perpetrated against LGBTI Persons.

In 2014, this team was mandated to attend to pending cases in the criminal justice system in which hate crimes were committed against LGBTI people , ensure efficient monitoring of reported hate crimes and provide support to victims. They were also to follow required procedures from the reporting stage to avoid pending cases from becoming backlogged and to develop an electronic data system to assist criminal justice role players in collecting hate crimes-related data.

Reid said in November the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women voiced concern at the lack of disaggregated data on measures taken by the state to prevent and protect women, including lesbians, from gender-based violence (GBV).

He asked government for an update on whether steps have been taken to implement recommendations of the committee, which included: 

  • raising awareness of women’s human rights among traditional and community leaders and the public, with the active participation of LBT women;
  • ensuring systematic training for judges, prosecutors, police officers and other law enforcement officers on the strict application of criminal law provisions on GBV ; 
  • creating an enabling environment for women and girls to report GBV by addressing the stigmatisation of victims, discriminatory stereotypes and judicial gender bias; and
  • ensuring that allegations of GBV against women facing intersecting forms of discrimination are promptly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and adequately punished and that survivors have access to victim support services and adequate reparations.

Human Rights Watch also asked for an update on the mooted development of a national intervention strategy for the LGBTI sector.

LGBTI individuals killed in SA in 2021:

  1. Bonang Gaelae, 29, whose throat was slashed in Sebokeng on February 12 2021.
  2. Nonhlanhla Kunene, 37, whose body was found half naked in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg on March 5 2021.
  3. Sphamandla Khoza, 34, who was beaten, stabbed and had his throat slit on March 29 2021 in Kwamashu, Durban.
  4. Nathaniel “Spokgoane” Mbele, who was stabbed in the chest in Tshirela, Vanderbijlpark on April 2 2021.
  5. Khulekani Gomazi, 27, who was beaten to death on April 3 2021 in Mpophomeni in KwaZulu-Natal after being accused of sexual assault.
  6. Andile “Lulu” Nthuthela, 41, whose mutilated and burned body was found on April 10 2021 in KwaNobuhle, Kariega.
  7. Lonwabo Jack, a young gay man who had just celebrated his 22nd birthday on April 17 2021. His lifeless body was found lying on the street the next day in Nyanga, Cape Town.
  8. Lucky Kleinboy Motshabi, 30, whose body was found in a field in Dennilton, Limpopo on April 24 2021. He was naked with stab wounds on his body.
  9. Phelokazi Mqathana, 24, who was stabbed to death on the weekend beginning May 1 2021 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It was reported that a man stabbed her after she rejected his advances.
  10. Lindokuhle Mapu, 23, who was stabbed to death in Mfuleni, Cape Town on May 9 2021.
  11. Aubrey Boshoga, 48, whose body was dumped outside his house in Johannesburg on May 29 2021.
  12. Masixole Level, 28, whose body was found on a street in Kwazakhele in the Eastern Cape on June 6 2021.
  13. Anele Bhengu, 28, whose stabbed and mutilated body was discovered in KwaMakhutha, KwaZulu-Natal on June 13 2021.
  14. Lulama Mvandaba, who died days after being beaten outside a bar in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape in June 2021.
  15. A body believed to be that of gay man Sam Mbatha was discovered in his burnt-out car in Klipgat in the North West on June 17 2021.
  16. Motse Moeketsi, 36, whose body was discovered in Freedom Park in Gauteng after he was reported missing on June 18 2021.
  17. Sheila Lebelo, a 33-year-old lesbian who was killed in Atteridgeville, Pretoria in June 2021.
  18. Thapelo Sehata, 23, who died in hospital in August 2021 after an assault in Senwabarwana, Limpopo.
  19. Sisanda Gumede, a 28-year-old lesbian, who was stabbed to death in KwaZulu-Natal on September 26 2021.
  20. Zimasile Zubair Shabangu, 35, who was stabbed to death in the early hours of October 4 2021 at another person’s home in Northriding, Johannesburg. - As documented by journalists/activists from MambaOnline

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