Crime | News | South Africa

South African Lesbian Activist Raped, Murdered in Brutal Hate Crime

Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian and a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC), the key LGBTI organisation in Kwa-Thema township in South Africa, was murdered on Easter Sunday after a brutal "corrective rape" by a group of men.

Pride Pink News reports:

The committee, along with the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) said that Ms Nogwaza’s face was so badly beaten that she was unrecognisable. Her body had been stabbed all over with glass shards and there was evidence she had been raped.

Victor Mukasa, project coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders Project at CALI, said: “I am so disturbed by this horrific action. It is the responsibility of the South African Government to protect all its citizens. Hate crimes against LGBT people in this country are on the rise and the government should come out openly against these actions.

The BBC adds:

South African police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi says that the police prioritise violence against women and children but do not look at sexual orientation when carrying out their investigations.

"To us, murder is murder, whether somebody is Zulu, English, male or female - we don't see colour, we don't see gender," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Prayers were held for Ms Nogwaza outside her home on Saturday and some activists report hearing threatening comments from young men in the crowd.

They fear some of the killers may have mingled with the mourners.

The Guardian adds:

More than 2,000 people attended Nogwaza's funeral last weekend. A group sang that they would use razor blades to cut off the genitals of the suspects if the police did not arrest them, the New Age newspaper reported. Some carried posters that read: "Love me or hate me I will continue to be a lesbian," and "Raping me won't change me."

"Corrective rape" is reaching epidemic proportions in South Africa: "Campaigners say that 31 lesbians have been murdered because of their sexuality in the past decade and more than 10 lesbians a week are raped or gang raped in Cape Town alone."

EPOC released a statement calling for thorough and immediate investigations.

Ekurhuleni Pride photo above via African Activist.

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  1. For courageous 24 year old woman to be butchered because she wouldn't lie. I could never have the kind of bravery African Gays have. Never.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 3, 2011 2:22:00 PM

  2. Do people listen to what they say at all?

    "South African police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi says that the police prioritise violence against women and children..."

    and then in the same breath,

    "To us, murder is murder,..., we don't see gender,..."

    Posted by: TampaZeke | May 3, 2011 3:03:04 PM

  3. Derrick, I agree. There are places in this world where the courage to be gay or lesbian, if not openly at least tacitly, requires the expectation that one might actually be murdered.

    Am I being too vindictive if I say that I hope the crowd fulfills the words to the song they sang and do find the perpetrators and do cut off their genitals?

    I think even that would not be punishment enough. God, what a horrible way to die.

    Posted by: jamal49 | May 3, 2011 3:06:53 PM

  4. Such a horrible, horrible story. I fully 100% agree with Derrick, I cannot even begin to imagine growing and living as openly gay in Africa or completely institutional anti-gay countries. So rough.

    Rape is a SEVERE issue in South Africa. Like 30% of women are raped, and over 1/3 of men admit to raping women. If you know anything or speak out on the issue you're libel to be killed. Such a horrible situation over there.

    Posted by: Francis | May 3, 2011 3:42:53 PM

  5. Francis, they also have aids. A lot of men with aids rape young women because they are told this is how they will get rid of the decease. I don't want to even mention what the south African president said at the time about aids.

    Derrick, it puts things into perspective. You guys will never see the real Africa but then you will never see the 'real' world. Not been funny but many European countries-mainly due to colonization-get much more information about Africa. Most ofy white friends have lived or travelled there before knowing me.

    It's a pity but there are a lot of people fighting there who don't want to run to the western world but try and help the country. It's near impossible.

    Posted by: Rowan | May 3, 2011 4:00:20 PM

  6. Sorry but the police spokesperson may have things a little differently. I was in South Africa in March for a meeting with dept. Of Justice. They agreed to form a special commission. The second meeting happened today. If anyone is interested in the inside story please read same at

    Posted by: Melanie Nathan | May 3, 2011 5:31:36 PM

  7. NEWS BREAKING the meeting against Corrective Rape in SA today, spearheaded by LezGetReal and Luleki Zizwe, today heralds this historic

    Posted by: Melanie Nathan | May 3, 2011 6:13:09 PM

  8. I am so sorry this happened to you my friend. This is a horrible way to have someone take your life for being yourself and fighting for the rights of others who are like you. I pray that the animals who did this to you burn in HELL for what they have done to did NOT deserve this...

    Posted by: Shannon | May 3, 2011 7:15:21 PM

  9. These gay and lesbian Africans have serious balls. A shame this women didn't have greater protection or ability to protect herself. Sounds like personal safety is a #1 issue for SA lesbians and gays, especially in the townships. Are there organizations specifically regarding this issue? If it's so bad and dangerous I suppose they should be encouraged to immigrate to western Europe, UK, North America, but will they get asylum?

    RIP Noxolo Nogwaza.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 3, 2011 9:22:11 PM

  10. No, no asylum, not when we have a constitution that guarantees equality regardless of sexual orientation in South Africa.

    It's not just an LGBT problem, it's weaved into all the other problems in ZA: the war against women, class divisions, and the biggie: non-delivery of service (sure to be a big issue in the upcoming local elections). Police are liable to lose records, bungle up evidence, be undertrained in handling rape cases, and courts have huge backlogs. Hospitals are overstretched, staff undertrained, again probably not good on sensitivity to rape victims ...

    Having said that, congrats to LezGetReal & Luleki Sizwe for getting the task force - even a non-activist like me know how hard it is to get government commitment in ZA!

    We need a government that delivers, at the end of the day!!

    Posted by: Married | May 4, 2011 1:45:10 PM

  11. Rape, clearly a weapon of rage, humiliation and control. Certainly a woman has exponential risks after the fact, like pregnancy that could further put her life in danger.
    Rape occurs seconds apart for any female in America. Rape has been reported in the camps of Haitian homeless after the quake, by the Janjaweed in the Sudan, against women gay or not in SA and against young girls by the Taliban...the list is endless and ongoing.

    That Americans who are adamantly anti gay, and apparently VERY revisionist about nature's 'two halves' and the role and value of women, ignore the history and contemporary horrors of brutality, violence and repression against females everywhere.

    I am so impressed by the courage and tenacity of gays and lesbians everywhere who ARE in danger for being open, let alone advocates for their fellows. THIS is what's akin to the Civil Rights struggles in our nation, when leaders and their followers could be and were killed and violated and threatened in the same way.

    I'm sickened over this latest rape and murder, and I agree, the inadequate interest, facilities and forensic science that investigates, likely won't find the culprits who roam free to repeat their offense.
    My prayers and love go with those who stand so tall to make gays and lesbians free.

    Posted by: Regan DuCasse | May 7, 2011 12:12:05 PM

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