“He asked why I am wearing guys’ clothes and I kept quiet… He became aggressive saying why don’t I want to answer him, he’s going to show me today that I’m a girl…”
Lungile Dladla, a lesbian from Daveyton, recounts her rape ordeal at the hands of a perpetrator who wanted to ‘correct her sexual orientation and infected her with HIV. Her case was initially closed due to an apparent lack of evidence but after pressure from a radio station which aired her story, her case was re-opened and the perpetrator was convicted.
The violence and brutality experienced by Lungile is shared by many lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans-genders and intersex people (LGBTI). Attacks on people because of their gender presentation or perceived sexual orientation are still tragically common in our country. Lisa Vetten, from the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, has examined rape and the criminal justice system. She concedes that the quality of justice one receives depends on where one is in the country. It’s someone’s misfortune to be raped in an area where the police station has less than a one percent conviction rate
The absence of solid statistics on hate crimes and the lack of hate crime legislation lead to serious challenges in their prosecution. In response to the outcry from the LGBTI community, in 2011, the Department of Justice appointed the National Task Team to address the issue of hate crimes against LGBTI people. The National Rapid Response Team was established to fast track the numerous unsolved criminal cases. 23 of the 45 cases on the list for the last financial year have been finalised.
Noxolo Nogwaza’s case has not been finalised. She was murdered four years ago in Kwa-Thema, on the East Rand. Those closest to her believe it was because she was a lesbian.
Despite the challenges, there is hope. The murder trial of 24-year old Disebo Gift Makau ended in May this year with Pule Stoffel Botlhokwane’s sentencing to two life terms for rape and murder and 15 years for robbery. The heavy sentence was hailed as a victory by the LGBTI community.
Watch Special Assignment as we end off Women’s Month by examining the problem of hate crimes in South Africa and asking what can be done to ensure LGBTI hate crime victims get sufficient justice.
Sunday night on SABC 3 at 20h30. For more information contact: