Murdered South African Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, was the victim of a brutal hate crime say LGBT and human rights advocates, despite South African police refusing to treat it as such.
Ms. Nogwaza was attacked by a group of men not long after leaving her girlfriend in a township near Johannesburg on April 23.
Human Rights Watch says this attack has all the marks of “corrective rape,” that is to say where a woman is sexually violated in order to try and “cure” her or punish her for being a lesbian. It is also similar to other murders against lesbian victims that have been carried out in the same area over the past five years.
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Noxolo Nogwaza was found murdered on April 24 in a vicious attack that seems to have been motivated by her sexual orientation. Nogwaza’s face and head were completely disfigured by stoning, she was stabbed several times with broken glass, and the evidence suggests that she was raped. A beer bottle, a large rock, and used condoms were found on and near her body.
“Nogwaza’s death is the latest in a long series of sadistic crimes against lesbians, gay men, and transgender people in South Africa,” said Dipika Nath, researcher in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender tights (LGBT) program at Human Rights Watch.
“The vicious nature of the assault is a potent reminder that these attacks are premeditated, planned, and often committed with impunity.”
Human Rights Watch said that the government should immediately issue a public statement condemning the attack and the police should step up investigations to apprehend Nogwaza’s killers.
On the night of April 23, Nogwaza went to a bar in Tsakane, a township neighbouring Kwa-Thema, with a female friend. Some men in the bar propositioned her friend, which led to a verbal altercation between Nogwaza and the men.
Her friend left the bar and Nogwaza herself was last seen by an acquaintance soon after the fight. Her body was discovered in an alley not far from the bar at approximately 9:00 a.m. the following morning.
No witnesses to the attack have come forward. Some of the people who live along the alley where her body was found told the police that they heard screams late at night, but no one went out to investigate or called the police. A case has been registered at Tsakane Police Station but the police have yet to make any arrests.
The Advocate reports that neighbors did, however, hear attackers shouting “We will take the lesbian out of you.” The Advocate also notes that “lesbian soccer player Eudy Simelane was raped and murdered in a similar manner three years ago in the same township.”
Nogwaza was a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee and had been involved with organizing Pride events in the area since 2009. Several members of the committee have faced verbal abuse and some have suffered physical attacks.
Human rights groups say this killing is evidence of a larger problem in South Africa. While South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution explicitly protects gay people from discrimination and violence, human rights advocates warn of an “epidemic” of violence against gay and gender nonconforming people in South Africa that is not being tackled properly by South African leaders or the judicial branch.
Read more at UK Gay News.
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