CW: Murder against LGBTQ+ people, rape
There have been three more hate crime victims of LGBTQ+ people in South Africa this month. These deaths continue a disturbing re-occurrence of anti-LGBTQ+ murders in South Africa. As reported by LGBTQ+ news outlet Mamba Online, Anele Bhengu, a 22-year-old lesbian, was found dead on the side of the road this past weekend. Bhengu was reportedly stabbed and raped while she was visiting a friend during her travels.
Corrective Rape Is Being Used Against Lesbians at an Alarming Rate
Nontembeko Boyce, the speaker of the KZN’s legislature, had this to say about Bhengu’s murder: It was “very painful news to receive, especially during Pride Month. Lesbians in an often homophobic and patriarchal society, they face a further danger — the idea that they can be changed and made into women through what is known as corrective rape.”
In 2011, the BBC reported that 31 lesbians had been sexually assaulted to “change” their sexual orientation in the past decade.
Bhengu’s Murder Came Shortly After Another Violent Attack in South Africa, Cape Town
Lulama Mvandaba, another Black lesbian, was recently killed in her home. She was assaulted by three men in the Khayelitsha township in Cape Town. Her body was only discovered last Friday when her neighbors broke down her door.
Even though police first claimed that Mvandaba died of natural causes, an autopsy later revealed that she experienced numerous assault wounds. These included burn marks that could have been from a burning object.
Mvandaba’s family believes that she was murdered due to her sexual orientation. Here is what Mvandaba’s brother, Mvelisi Mvandaba, told Independent Online:
“We ask for privacy at this point and will issue a statement about her death once we have had time to grieve, as, unfortunately, she was murdered due to her sexuality and as a member of the LGBTQI+ community. We are extremely shocked and traumatised as a family and can only imagine how all the kids she touched during her career will be feeling.”
Mvandaba was a volunteer at Phakama Youth and Community Health Project, an advocacy organization that brings AIDS education and HIV testing to community groups.
The Murder of Masixole Level
Only one day after Mvandaba’s murder, a 28-year-old gay man, Masixole Level’s body, was found in the city of Gqebera in the Eastern Cape. It is still to be determined whether the killing was a robbery or a hate crime. However, his sister speculates that it was motivated by his sexual orientation due to the various stab wounds on his body.
His sister, referred to anonymously as Siphokazi in an interview with Mamba Online said, “It looked like someone hated him or really wanted him dead. If it was just a robbery, they wouldn’t have stabbed him like that.”
Siphokazi described her brother, a hairstylist, as “friendly” and “loving,” a person who was “always laughing and that cared for his friends.