Heartbreaking Video expresses the scourge of Corrective Rape while the South African Task Team Sleeps
By Melanie Nathan, July 07, 2013.
Last week, a memorial service was held pending the funeral of a beloved lesbian from Gauteng, bringing home the horrendous truth, that “corrective rape” and violence against lesbians continues uncontrollably, despite acute awareness on the part of the Government in South Africa. Over two years have passed since the formation of a Task Team, to combat such crimes, and yet lesbians are in as much danger as ever, due to ignorance, hate and inaction, and despite a Constitution and laws rich in equality.
Twenty-six year old Duduzile Zozo’s half-naked body was discovered at a house about 10 metres from her home on Sunday morning. Her grieving mother, Thuziwe Zozo, interviewed in the video below, said she suspected her daughter was killed for being a lesbian and that her body was placed close to her home to further the anti-gay hate so that she, the mother, will always have to suffer the reminder of the brutality and pain inflicted on her murdered child. The community remembered Zozo last week for her beautiful life of purpose and loving kindness, as her battered body awaits burial, the heartbreak of an inconsolable mother is exacerbated by the notion that maybe this insidious crime could have been prevented.
Zozo, a gender-non-conforming lesbian, was loved and fully accepted by her mother, a traditional woman, who notes in the heartbreaking video (below) that her daughter was a lesbian and that she welcomed her the way she was; she was created by God and that she was just the way God wanted her to be.
The mother’s love and acceptance stands in stark contrast to the traditional chiefs of South Africa, who have done nothing more than fuel the hate for lesbians, by their attempts to reverse the attainment of equality and through the rhetoric that goes with it, and that may be a big part of the problem that is barely addressed. South Africa has a fully equal Constitution and success in attaining actual rights that came after its inception, yet the attitudes of its society at large, has not not caught up to the ideal of dignity and acceptance for LGBTI people. If anything some of the leadership attitudes have served only to exacerbate the problem which can be seen from the posts here about the anti-gay rants and attempts by traditional chiefs to revoke the South Africa’s hard earned equality.
The government of South Africa through SAnews.gov.za took the unusual move in expressing its sadness and outrage at the brutal killing of Zozo. In a statement the government conveyed its deepest condolences to Zozo’s family, while urging South Africans to give expression to the Constitution in their everyday conduct.:
“The Bill of Rights of our Constitution recognizes and guarantees equality,” the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said in a statement. “This fundamental right enjoins South Africans not to discriminate against anyone on several grounds, including gender, sex and sexual orientation.”
The government appealed to communities to work together with the law enforcement agencies to ensure that Zozo’s murderers were brought to book.
“Every South African has a duty to act against perpetrators of violence within the ambit of the law,” said GCIS Acting CEO Phumla Williams. “Violent acts such as this reinforce the existing social inequalities, based on gender and sexuality, and cannot go unchallenged.”
She said the government would continue to strive to ensure that all citizens were and felt safe in their homes and places of work.
“As we enter Mandela Month, let us not forget what the father of the nation fought for – a democratic country governed by a Constitution that is anchored on a vision that promotes human dignity, human rights and freedom, non-racialism and non-sexism,” Williams said.
“Let us work together to keep the legacy of Nelson Mandela alive.”
In a separate statement, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane expressed sadness at Zozo’s “gruesome and shameful” murder.
“We urge community members to go to the police with any information that will lead to the successful arrest of the people responsible for this barbaric act, so that they can face the full might of the law.”
Mokonyane said there was no place for people who disregarded South Africa’s national pride of unity in diversity, and infringed on other people’s right to human dignity and freedom of association as enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Zozo family; our prayers are with you,” Mokonyane said.
But is this just talk or does the Government intend to ‘put its money where its mouth is?’ Surely it is the Government which remains fully responsible for their failure to protect citizens as expressed by other rape victims in this Video and the mother of Dudu Zozo. The South African Government has had two years of acute awareness to do something concrete to help this untenable situation. And yet it has done nothing to change the attitudes of South Africans who still live with hate and a mindset that does not match the intent of the Constitution.
Surely it is time for South Africans to learn to live their awesome Constitution?
In 2010 after I wrote an article “The Face of Corrective Rape,” which went viral, the world, noting the endemic hate and brutality, was aghast, and the outcry resulted in a Change.org petition placing over 200,000 signatures on the Minister of Justice in South Africa’s desk. It was then that Minister Jeff Radebe invited Luleki Sizwe, a tiny grassroot organization tasked with helping lesbian victims of so called “corrective rape”, in South Africa, to Parliament to discuss the issue. I had the great honor of being the prime spokesperson together with Ndumie Funda of Luleki Sizwe at that meeting , where I presented reforms which I had drafted to the Department of Justice.
At that meeting the Government set about forming the Task Team, a partnership of ANC Government and LGBTI organizations, to seek remedies to combat homophobic violence in South Africa and to investigate measures to help and protect survivors and community alike. But nothing has changed and the Task Team has yet to provide any suggestions for solutions, let alone remedies at all, for the ongoing violence against lesbians.
One could probably write a thesis attaching blame to infighting amongst the civil society interest groups, incompetence on the part of the organizations and the government alike, but none of that will change the trauma or bring back the victims who have been raped, brutalized and murdered since its inception.
The time is now - to wind back to square one – to reshape the Team and to find a way to make immediate and urgent inroads.
“The women of Thokoz, at Zozo Duduzile’s memorial, stated that they are tired of the justice system failing them and advised that they feel as though they must take the matter into their own hands,” said a spokesperson from FEW Empowerment, a local organization.
FEW reiterated the fact that any time a gay, lesbian, intersex or transgendered person is killed, nothing is done. However, when a heterosexual person experiences the same thing, all resources are pulled together to solve the case and bring justice and so the message remains that if the victim is LGBTI – no one gives a damn and let the homophobia continue!
FEW said that the community had marched to the Thokoza Police Station on Wednesday to demand justice and to put pressure on the police. They sang “UDuduzile akalele, uguqe ngamadolo” (“Duduzile is waiting for justice”).
The key is for the South African Government to launch the Task Team with full force and vigor and to establish strong leadership and accountability on this issue. In doing so it should also immediately launch an educational and advertising campaign with facts about sexuality that will help the local police and communities understand the normalcy of their LGBT members and the importance of the Constitution and what it means. People like Patikile Holomisa and religious right wingers should be taken to task and shamed by local media for their failure to honor their citizenship in a country that has suffered so much to attain this level of equality.
VIDEO: Notice from the Video that one victim was laughed at by police. The South African Government – right to the top – Minister Jeff Radebe and President Jacob Zuma are responsible. This is unacceptable and it is time for change.
By Melanie Nathan