Intolerance encourages violence as traditional leader chiefs try to rob LGBT South Africans of their entrenched constitutional rights – Are the Traditional Leaders providing a license to rape lesbians?
By Melanie Nathan, June 04, 2012.
In September 2010 Nontsikelelo Tyatyeka a young 21 year old lesbian disappeared in Nyanga township, Cape town. Her body was found in the trash at a neighbors house a year later. The circumstances of her death were horrific. She was murdered because she was a lesbian. While Lesbians suffer injustice, traditional chiefs with parliamentary authority spew hate against them through asserting that sexual orientation rights, which are enshrined in the South African Constitution should be revoked.
Free Gender, a local NGO advocated with the Deputy Minister of Police to speed up the DNA testing so that the family could finally bury their child, Nontsikelelo. It took fifteen months as a grieving mother and the lesbian community finally laid their child to rest.
After the neighbor was arrested, the case languished in the Athlone Magistrate court , and now typical of these cases, where slow justice may be no justice, the case will finally be heard in Wynberg District Court on June 07, this year, as accused killer Vuyisle Madikane will appear for the first time.
Free Gender, a local NGO of grass root activists who assist and support lesbian victims, families and survivors, believes that there is a significance to the timing of this case as in recent weeks, homophobic statements have been made against the LGBTI community by a Traditional Chief Holomisa. These remarks were made in his professional capacity as a member of Parliament and serve only to impede progress on this and similar cases, as well as serve to incite further violence against lesbians.
Free Gender, Triangle Project, Treatment Action Campaign and Sonke Gender Justice will be protesting against this at Wynberg Magistrate Court on the 7th June 2012 at 9am and are asking the community to show up to express their anger at the Chiefs lack of care for the LGBTI community.
Although South Africa has an all inclusive Constitution, the incidence of homophobia and crimes against lesbians in particular is endemic. Lesbians in South African Townships are particularly at risk as the incidence of so called corrective rape and the murders are rampant.
This is an especially important protest because it comes at a time when the South African Traditional Leaders have launched an assault on the rights of lesbian South Africans.
The Traditional leaders, under the leadership of Chief Patkele Holomisa the member of parliament representing the ruling party of Madibe Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress (ANC,) are currently conducting a constitutional review under the authority of the Constitutional Review Committee, to revoke the protected and enshrined Constitutional rights of LGBTI South Africans.
While the rights of any group in South Africa should never be up for review, the parliamentary process in South Africa lends credence to the possibility that sexual orientation and gender identity protections could be scrapped from the Bill of Rights.
When the Chiefs charged with parliamentary duties use their chieftainships to influence villages and followers while talking about taking away protections for the LGBT community, they are furthering misunderstanding and the misconceptions and endorsing hate and violence.
Instead of teaching acceptance and tolerance the Chiefs and Traditional leaders are fostering violence against the lesbian community and this is enraging and unacceptable.
Hopefully many will turn up to protest this injustice and to let the chiefs know that their behavior is unconstitutional as their anti-gay sentiment is as tantamount to an endorsement of the violence itself.
Free Gender would appreciate donations so that more protestors can be transported to the Court. I am calling on all my South African friends to contact Funeka Soldaat to offer assistance to make voices heard.
UPDATE; 6/09/2012 – Trial has been postponed to June 11, 2012. to provide legal counsel for Accused. It is likely it will be postponed again. In the meantime it is an enormous financial strain on the South African Activists to keep transporting supporters for the family and the victim to court each time. If you are interested ind donating money to help FreeGender and the Mother of the victim who is a domestic worker in South Africa, please contact me – [email protected]
By Melanie Nathan, [email protected]
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