Bianca Lamba at a memorial service for her late friend
Duduzile Zozo this week (Pic: Zanele Muholi)

The Gauteng provincial government has expressed shock at the appalling response by police to the rape of one of Duduzile Zozo’s friends nine years ago.

Following the horrific murder and sexual assault of the openly lesbian Zozo last week, it came to light that one of her friends had been raped almost a decade ago.

Bianca Lamba (27) told the Sunday World that she was attacked by seven men who lived near her home in Thokoza in 2004.

She alleges that when she reported the assault at the Thokoza police station she was laughed at by the officers, who refused to open a case.

“They said that if I were a ‘real’ woman, they would have treated me differently,” said Lamba.

As a result of that experience, Lamba believes that there will be no justice for her murdered friend.

“Dudu knew my story and she encouraged me to stay strong and keep my head up. She wasn’t as scared as I am. Now she is gone. What they did to her brings back my horrible experience. When will this end? When will we be treated as equals?” asked Lamba.

“She was such a good person, but she was shy. She didn’t deserve this. I pray that the people who did that to her get caught and punished,” she said.

In a statement, Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, expressed her disappointment at the alleged manner in which police officers conducted themselves in Lamba’s rape.

“Such conduct in the South African Police Service should not be tolerated. The code of conduct for public servants including the oath taken to protect, serve and ‘Batho pele’ principles have no room for such unbecoming behaviours.

“Every victim of crime must be treated equally irrespective of their sexual orientation,” said Mazibuko. She added that lesbians and gays were also human beings and shared the same human rights just like everyone else.

“My department will ensure that decisive action is taken against these officers. We will also assist with ensuring that the case is reopened so that perpetrators are brought to book and face the wrath of the law,” said Mazibuko.

While the story may have surprised the MEC, the secondary victimisation of so called ‘corrective’ or ‘curative’ rape victims by police, has long been cited by LGBTI activists as one of the reasons why victims avoid reporting attacks to the authorities.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that Zozo’s family has had to delay her funeral due to a lack of finances. The young woman was the sole breadwinner in the home.

No suspects have yet been identified or arrested in Zozo’s murder.

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