Kwa-Thema Praying for homophobic victims.

From Free Gender – remembering our sisters who died because they dared to be free.

Noxolo Nogwaza, Nokuthula Radebe, Xolani, Gairly Nkosi, and Eudy Simelane all died by the hands of homophobes around Ekurhuleni. A prayer was held on Wednesday 11 May at the spot were 24 year old Nogwaza was killed two weeks ago in a horrific manner. In tears, Noxolo’s Aunt Nomalwe Dlomo thanked people for their support, she also asked Noxolo’s blood to “speak and reveal her killers”.

Relatives of the five victims of Gender Based Violence lit candles to honour their lives. The LGBTI community, various ANC members, human rights organisations, Pastors, Kwa-Thema residents and Executive Mayor Clr Mondli Gungubele attended the event to show solidarity in the fight against hate crime. Traditional incense was burned by traditional healers who appealed to those who’ve been killed to speak for themselves. Speaking to the media, Clr Gungubele said our constitution promotes tolerance and people have a right to be whoever they wish as enshrined in our constitution. “Noxolo’s murder is a demonstration of deepest level of sickness. Perpetrators need help but must face the might of the law. Unless society comes together and condemns this act, they risk being misunderstood as accepting” concluded Gungubele.

Gender Links delivered a message of awareness. “Corrective rape is a crime and lesbians have rights as well, women must be free to walk at night” said the representative. Ward councillor Dorah Mlambo appealed to the community to be understanding of LGBTI people, “they are our families” she added. Gauteng Premier Nomvula Makonyane was expected to deliver the keynote address, but did not make it to the event, as well as the Police who were supposed to give a message of support.

“As a young woman I am very sad, today brings pain to all affected people” said Nokhwezi from the Treatment Action Campaign. The TAC activist also said that politicians talk after these events, and then nothing else happens, “are you going to put pressure on the police and judicial system to solve this case?” Nokhwezi asked the Executive Mayor Gungubele. The young woman who had a lot of questions asked why the community was shielding the killers, and where are spaces for LGBTI people created by government. “Police brutality on homosexuals must stop, where must we go?” added Nokhwezi.

Hamba Kahle (go well) a popular struggle song was sung by a local choir, who declared that they are taking a stand against violence and intolerance. From the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) Fikile Vilakazi said “we are very angry and willing to work with the government, we have been talking for long and not being heard. We understand that the government is setting up a task team to deal with hate crimes starting in July, but how many people are going to die before that time?” Clr Mondli Gungubele reminded everyone that humans will always be different and that the constitution comes from the people but the behaviour says otherwise. “Those harbouring information are no different from the killers, South Africa is an angry society” concluded Clr Mondli.

By Lerato Dumse – Free Gender