Six young lesbian women were victims of an apparently unprovoked attack by a man at a petrol station in Gugulethu, 15 km from Cape Town, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, earlier this month.

According to the Cape Argus, the women, who have asked to not be identified, had been out partying at a gay-friendly club in the area when they stopped at the petrol station to buy snacks.

A 22-year-old woman told the newspaper that a man, whom she described as “angry and energetic, as if he was on drugs”, suddenly attacked the group and started assaulting one of her friends.

“He punched her until she was down on the ground. He kicked her in the face until blood trickled down her forehead. He slapped, shoved and punched anyone who tried to intervene… he was so strong; we felt powerless,” said the woman.

The assailant then became violent with some of the other women while shouting “These fucking lesbians, we must beat them up until they stop”. The man eventually ended his attack and drove off in his car.

“I don’t know where all that hate was coming from. I am scared to go out now. As a lesbian I feel like a walking target,” the young woman said.

Two of the victims were taken to hospital. One woman, a 19-year-old school pupil, managed to write her English matric exam the following morning, despite her injuries; a swollen face and a scar above her eye.

“I am still shaken. I never thought something like this would happen to me… we didn’t do anything to provoke him. We hope justice is done so that this guy can’t hurt anyone else,” she said.

Assault charges have been laid against the man.

At a conference on crime in Sandton last week, experts argued strongly for hate crime laws to be put in place in South Africa in response to ongoing incidents of violence against LGBTI people.

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