A hundred or so people took part in a Pride march through Soweto on Saturday as part of this week’s Joburg Pride celebrations.

While the turnout was disappointing – organisers expected around 400 people to attend the event – the participants were enthusiastic and no incidents were reported. The rally was well supported by a number of community organisations and NGOS.

The march started at 11.30am from the corner of Roodepoort and Mphuti roads in White City and then proceeded to the Jabulani Police Station. At the station, a memorandum was handed over to the Commissioner to protest the murder of two lesbians, Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Massoa, on 7 July this year.

Soweto Pride founder Phumla Masuku read out the contents of the memorandum to the crowd and media after which Carrie Shelver from People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) made an impassioned speech. She decried the organisers of Joburg Pride for not holding the event in Soweto as the townships were where it was most relevant and described Joburg Pride as being for the privileged few.

Tracey Sandilands, who together with other members of the Joburg Pride Board attended the Soweto event, expressed her disappointment and hurt at Shelver’s public comments – which were recorded by the media – about the Rosebank parade.

“We agree that it’s important to make a stand here, that’s why we assisted Soweto Pride with substantial funding and personally supported the event, but we have to consider the city’s wishes and the logistics of an event with over ten thousand participants,” she said, adding that, “The organisation of Joburg Pride is open to all stakeholders. We urge LGBT community leaders to participate more fully on the volunteer board and make their mark.”

After the handing over of the memorandum, the crowd moved on to Oppenheimer Park (also known as Credo Mutwa Park) where around 200 people – mostly women – enjoyed performances by entertainers and partied until the early evening.

The Joburg Pride Parade and Party in the Park takes place on Saturday 6 October from 10am at Zoo Lake in Rosebank.

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