Hate crime crisis | Lerato Moloi laid to rest


Twenty-seven-year-old murdered lesbian Lerato Moloi was laid to rest on the weekend amid accusations that her funeral was “hijacked” by the ANC.

Moloi’s half naked body was discovered hidden in tall grass on 14 May in Soweto’s Naledi Ext. It’s believed that she was raped. The top half of her body was crushed with large rocks.

Moloi was one of four women who were killed in the area in that week.

On Saturday morning, friends, family and activists gathered at Naledi Hall to remember her life and her brutal murder.

The event was also attended by Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, who stood in front of a large ANC banner as she spoke. She called on members of the community to love and respect one another and to unite in the fight against gender based violence.

Some activists, however, are angry that the funeral service was “hijacked” by the ANC and the ANC Women’s League. There was also outrage that the song Umshini Wami, associated with supporting beleaguered President Jacob Zuma (who has faced rape charges, of which he was acquitted, and accusations of being homophobic), was sung at the event.

Questions have been asked about the appropriateness of “opportunistically” turning a family’s pain and a community’s grieving into a party political rally, as well as calls at the funeral for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Virginia Magwaza, a longstanding LGBTI activist and the Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at The Other Foundation, told Mambaonline: “There is a difference between government involvement in such issues and a political party using the space to make itself visible.

“For the ANC to be calling for the death penalty was also disturbing and raises concerns about its understanding of the Constitution and the history of the death penalty.”

Magwaza added that, “the singing of Umshini Wami was rubbing our sore with coarse salt”.

The late Lerato Moloi

Meanwhile, two suspects have been arrested in connection with Moloi’s murder. She was reportedly seen with the men at a local tavern on the night of her death. The men have appeared in court, with one confessing and the other pleading not guilty.

“What those boys did broke my heart, it really broke my heart, but there’s nothing I can do,” Moloi’s father, Themba Khumalo, told News24. “It’s God’s will. I just wish our government could tighten the law and deal with these people because our children are no longer safe.”

He explained that his daughter’s sexual orientation had been accepted by the family: “She moved like a boy, dressed like one and she only spoke in tsotsi taal.”

The suspects in Moloi’s murder will appear at the Protea Magistrates’ Court on 29 May. Activists have called on members of the LGBTI community and its allies to attend the hearing to show support for the family and to speak out against hate crimes.

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