A candlelight vigil was held in Delft to remember Diego Jacobs and denounce LGBTIQA+ hate crimes. (Photos courtesy of Jonathan Jantjies)
Friends, family, and community members gathered in Delft, Cape Town, last week to honour the memory of 21-year-old Diego Jacobs, who was murdered in an alleged anti-LGBTIQA+ hate crime.
The young queer man was brutally attacked in the early hours of Saturday, February 3rd, in Delft when he encountered a former neighbour who’d reportedly previously harassed him about his queer identity.
Despite Jacobs’ efforts to walk away, the suspect used anti-LGBTIQA+ slurs and allegedly fatally stabbed him in the neck with a knife. A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder.
Unity Amidst Tragedy: Candlelight Vigil and March
On Thursday, February 8th, a candlelight vigil and march were held in Delft to remember Jacobs and denounce LGBTIQA+ hate crimes.
Organised by the Del-Har (Delft and Belhar) Pride Support Group, the event drew attendees from Jacobs’ family, friends, community leaders, activists, and organisations such as Gender Dynamix, Jacky Latriec Majawie Safe Space, Pride Shelter, the Western Cape Civil Society Forum, and several political parties.
The memorial commenced with a silent protest on Delft’s main road where banners condemning LGBTIQA+ hate were held up to the passing traffic and pedestrians. This was followed by a gathering at a netball field where Jacobs once played.
Jonathan Jantjies, founder of the Del-Har Pride Support Group, addressed the crowd, emphasising unity and resilience within the LGBTIQA+ community.
The mourners then marched to the site of Jacobs’ murder, where a heartfelt ceremony took place, symbolised by the planting of a cross in his memory, the lighting of candles, and the release of colourful balloons into the air.
Jantjies expressed determination in the face of adversity, stating, “We sent out a very strong message to the community of Delft that these brutal killings of LGBTIQA+ siblings will not destroy our commitment to live our lives proudly and without fear. No LGBTIQA+ individual will die in vain. We will not hide who we are.”
The need for more visibility for LGBTIQA+ people
Jantjies told MambaOnline that he was driven to hold the vigil by “the fact that LGBTIQA+ individuals have to die before society realises the horrific realities we live on a daily basis.”
The murder was committed just days before the start of Cape Town’s annual Pride Festival, which runs until the 3rd of March. The tragic timing, he said, highlighted the need for more visibility for LGBTIQA+ people.
“We must have more public events like Pride in the rural areas, where communities are not educated enough regarding our constitutional rights to choose and live our sexual identities without fear of prejudice,” asserted Jantjies.
In the wake of Jacobs’ murder, LGBTIQA+ activists have called on President Ramaphosa to urgently sign the long-awaited Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which was passed by Parliament in December last year.
Diego Jacobs was laid to rest on Saturday in a moving ceremony that began with a funeral procession through the streets of Delft led by members of the LGBTIQA+ community bearing a rainbow flag.
Diego Jacobs was the victim of an alleged LGBTIQA+ hate crime (Photos: Facebook)