While Cape Town’s Pride celebrations kicked off this weekend with a parade through Guguletu – a first in the township’s history – a family was in mourning over the hate-crime murder of a young lesbian girl two weeks ago.

The teenager was killed by a mob on the 4th of February – apparently for being a lesbian – but the murder only came to light this weekend. A Sunday Times report said that the 19 year old Zoliswa Nkonyana was beaten, stoned and stabbed by a group of around 20 men in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha near her home, while members of her family watched; unaware that the victim was someone they knew.

Nkonyana’s friend, who has not been identified, and is in hiding, was apparently also attacked after the two girls were harassed and threatened with rape by the men for being lesbian. She managed to escape the attackers, but Nkonyana was not so lucky, and was left lying on the ground while she had bricks thrown at her and was beaten.

When Nkonyana’s stepfather, Gcinumzi Mandindi, realised that it was his daughter that had been attacked, he took her to hospital in a friend’s car. She later died in hospital. To date, the police have made no arrests, with the authorities having to be put in touch with witnesses by the Sunday Times itself.

According to a survey by Pretoria’s OUT, ongoing victimisation of black lesbian women is rife in the townships. Russell Southey, director of Cape Town Pride, told Behind the Mask website that the murder emphasised the importance of an event like the Guguletu mini-pride parade. “Hopefully marches like this will bring about social change, he said, adding that, “Gay people in black communities need to know they are not alone”.

According Cape Town Pride’s organisers, the weekend’s opening events included a rave, along with the mini-pride parade held in Guguletu. The Treatment Action Campaign showed their support for the parade and the group of about 200 people walked the township for around 1.5 km, accompanied by a marimba band, a bass band and an opera singer. The parade was apparently well-received by the community. The weekend also saw a Pink Race day at Kenilworth Race Course and a book fair.

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