19-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana

A number of South African leaders are expected to publicly condemn violence against the LGBT community at a rally in Cape Town tomorrow.

COPE’s Dr Allan Boesak, former Deputy Minister of Health Nozizwe Mdlala-Routledge, Lynne Brown from the ANC, Constitutional Law Professor Pierre de Vos from UCT, The Very Rev Dean Rowan Smith and Emily Craven, national coordinator for the Joint Working Group, are scheduled to attend the event at St Georges Cathedral.

The rally at 11am will be the culmination of a public protest and march convened by the WC 07-07-07 End Hate Alliance to raise public consciousness around the high incidence of hate crime violence against black lesbians in townships and rural communities.

Organisers say that the protest also aims to pressurise the Western Cape Departments of Public Prosecution and Justice to monitor and ensure that the Zoliswa Nkonyana trial, currently before the Khayelitsha regional court, proceeds without any further postponements and delays.

Nine of the 20 men are on trial for allegedly stabbing the 19 year-old Nkonyana to death meters from her home in Khayelitsha in February 2006. Since their first appearance in December 2006, the case has seen 20 postponements.

The trial is yet to commence in earnest, said activists who pointed out that the chief state witness, herself being a survivor of alleged attempted murder by the accused, is yet to be cross-examined by the defence after giving testimony in December 2008. Both the victim and the survivor were allegedly attacked after being taunted for being “tomboys and living as out lesbians” in their community.

“There is simply no regard for the delayed justice and emotional trauma of the victim’s family, nor the emotions of the survivor and her family who have to relive her traumatic experiences each time she is confronted by the accused and their supporters,” said the event’s organisers.

“The personal stories and experiences of black lesbians living in fear are horrific and we are angry at this travesty of social justice in a free and democratic South Africa. This travesty of justice and disregard for human dignity is allowed to continue without any challenge from political parties; leaders in the faith fraternity; community leaders and the media.”

The protest march will commence at the Grand Parade in Darling Street at 9am, move up Adderley Street to the Provincial Legislature in Wale Street and culminate in the public gathering in the St Georges Cathedral at 11am.

The organisers said at the time of going to press, no confirmation was received from either the Office of the Premier to confirm the attendance of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, or from the office of the Independent Democrats’ Patricia De Lille.

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