Noxolo Nogwaza

On the anniversary of the horrific murder of lesbian Noxolo Nogwaza, activists gathered in KwaThema to remember victims of hate crimes in South Africa. The police, however, failed to arrive as promised.

Just over a year ago, on April 24 2011, the body of the 24-year-old Nogwaza was found in an alley in the township outside of Johannesburg. She had been raped and her head and face were crushed beyond recognition.

On Tuesday, the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) held an evening of commemoration at the Methodist Church in KwaThema.

It said that the event had the aim of “remembering all the LGBTI comrades who were killed simply because of their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”.

The South African Police Service and the Ekurhuleni local government were also due to discuss the issue of hate crimes at the gathering.

However, according to Ntsupe Mohapi from EPOC, despite a promise to send a representative to the commemoration to update the community and the family on Nogwaza’s case, no one from the police arrived.

“I’m very angry because to me it shows that they are not taking LGBTI people seriously. It says that they are not committed to this case and they don’t really care,” said Mohapi.

To-date, there has been little progress in Nogwaza’s case and no suspects have been arrested or identified.

“It’s a small township and it’s very strange that the police still don’t have suspects in the case,” Mohapi added.

She said that EPOC will write to the Deputy Minister of Police about the lack of progress in the case and their dissatisfaction with the way that the police has handled the matter. The organisation also plans to picket the local police station next month in

The apparent lack of interest by police and, at times, their alleged victimisation of hate crime victims have repeatedly been identified as major stumbling blocks in dealing with the attacks on lesbian women in townships.

In 2008, another lesbian woman, Eudy Simelane, was also raped and murdered in KwaThema. Just over a year later, Themba Mvubu was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. Two other men also accused of the crime were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

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