This page showcases previously written articles from an earlier blog publication by Melanie Nathan. It is repeated here for information purposes. Nathan has spoken on the issue of so called corrective rape in South Africa and is available for speeches and media commentary on the subject. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Lesbian Corrective Rape Victim has her Day in Court
By Melanie Nathan 11-05-2010.
(Updated February 14, 2011) 4,444 Face Book Shares/ 56,000 visitors
This is the face of South African lesbian who was beaten and raped for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”. This is the face of a warrior who despite all odds, trauma, and police victimization, found her way to Court today by public transportation, to testify against her brutal attacker, who remained free on bail to -in essence- board the same bus. The Police were simply not willing to give this young woman a ride to the Court.
A spokesperson for Millicent Gaika contacted us back in April and we have been shedding light on the plight of Lesbian “corrective rape” in South Africa ever since. Today was Millicent Gaika’s day in court.
Her attacker acted like an animal who wanted to kill, strangling her with barbed wire; “I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.” The attacker was known To Gaika, a neighbor.
“He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.” The attack ended only ended after neighbors finally heard her screams, broke down the assailant’s door and found Gaika naked from the waist down on a bed and bleeding. They then held the assailant until police arrived.
Millicent was in severe shock and traumatized to the point of wanting to kill herself. She made contact with me mere days after it happened through Ndumie Funda from LulekiSizwe, a small unfunded groups that helped Millicent and other survivors. Millicent sent me the shocking photos with a brave plea to publish them so the world could see. It was then I realized that I was dealing with an extraordinary group of young women. This bravery continued as today Millicent was able to testify in Court, despite threats on her life and the release of the perpetrator back into the same neighborhood, on minimal bail.
It took everything she had to get to Court today, Friday- but she was propped up by other such victims and has not given up, despite the repeated threats and fears, determined to bring ‘the animal’ to justice. What makes this so much worse for Millicent Gaika is that this is not the first time Millicent has suffered such brutality. She was raped by a group of four men some years back, same motive and testified against them – they are serving 15 year sentences.
Today after the hearing I received this very perplexing and outrageous email and I have Left it in the original English (by Ndumie Funda) who has been caring for Millicent since the attack. English her second language readers may find this difficult to understand – but to change the emotion and terror behind its originality, I must report verbatim:
“Meza, (that is my SA “sister” name) – I’ve never been so tired like yesterday in my in tire life,we arrived in Wyneberg court at 8.30am,Millicent was ready to take a stand she was called in at 10am ,were not allowed to enter the court reason for the they said journalist were going to wright the false story.I then spoke to Milicent about that and she was fine with getting everybody in including the journalist.Then i again the persuaded her not to allow anybody in while she was testifying not even her own mother was allowed to get in inside.We all sit in the bangers next to us was the Andile Ncoza the guy who raped Millicent,all he does was steering as me with those angry eyes .not forget last week while i was driving passing his house he was standing out side ,when he saw my car he was swearing at me and saying i’m gonna get you bitch.Back to Milly she was alone testifying nervous and the court was surrounded with cameras,i remember her telling me yesterday that while she was standing in front of the magistrate facing Andile Ncoza the whole picture came back,1pm was lunch time and Andile was walking to the shop all the Luleki Sizwe together with Milly’s friends and his niece who happened to be a lesbians were singing a song called Elizuma lilapha lisenzeli wari/it means this rapist is making us worried cameras where on him.He could’nt come out of the shop ,his niece that happened to Milly’s friend throw him with water some spit in his face .we spand the whole day in court we left 4.30pm,next court case is next Wednesday in Wynberg court f 5th floor “
Is this how Justice is metered out in South Africa, that the trauma of the victim is exacerbated by the unjust freedom of the perpetrator, caught in the act, during the time of trial, while a victim is giving testimony? What is wrong with this picture. DO the South African authorities have no solicitude, responsibility, compassion?
That Millicent is completely without protection at this time is nothing short of an absolute outrage – that such bravery is rewarded with more fear?
Here is a call to the Cape Argus and other Papers in South Africa and around the world to comment on this flagrant disregard for the life a woman who is deeply committed to fight for her her own justice. Millicent is a hero.
It is amazing to me how the group impacted by this threat has not yet resorted to street justice – after all they are under direct threat of attack and the authorities don’t give a damn!
Ndumi Funda, the founder and director of Luleki Sizwe Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women’s Project in Nyanga:-
“This needs to be stopped. We know of so many that this happens to and nothing is done about it. How many more young lesbian women must die?”
In South Africa one of out 4 people are HIV positive or have aids, and many lesbians have contracted HIV/AIDS because of these rapes and have died.
A statement released by South Africa’s national prosecuting authority said: “While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project.”
We demand that South African President Zuma change that and do something!
FEBRUARY 14 – 2011
UPDATE: Minister of Justice has agreed to meet on REFORMS-
Over 1 million signatures supporting the petition for corrective rape reform have been collected worldwide, also calling for the harshest sentences to perpetrators of corrective rape and that government acknowledges the existence of corrective rape which, it says the government seems to deny at present.
“We will meet with Luleki Sizwe to discuss the matter. I called them last week to enquire about the logistical aspects of this meeting. They indicated that they would like the meeting to take place in Cape Town. In all likelihood the meeting will take place in Cape Town”, Tlali Tlali spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said.
6 November 2010
Dear Millicent and all comrades accompanying the trial
The Lesbian and Gay equality Project sends it full solidarity to Millicent and all of you during this time. We all know too well that claiming/demanding justice is no easy for many people who experience and suffer multiple forms of oppression. That discomfort and fear makes many unable to walk the path that you are so bravely engaged in right now.
Millicent, you will be speaking for so many who have been unable to. We send you positive energies to continue boosting your courage and strength. All the best Sister!
With lots of love, respect and solidarity for the days ahead!
Phumi -Phumzile S. Mtetwa , Executive Director -Lesbian and Gay Equality Project
OUTRAGE: South Africa – Brutal Rapist of Lesbian Soccer Player Released on Bail
5-28-2010 Melanie Nathan
Cape Town, South Africa: Early in April. I reported extensively about the brutal Rape and attempted murder of Soccer Player Millicent Gaika, a lesbian who was raped for the third time, for being a lesbian, in what has come to be known an act of “corrective rape.”
Millicent Gaika of Gugulethu Township alleged her attacker “acted like an animal who wanted to kill” and said “I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.”
Gaika said the assault began after she and some friends were walking home after spending the evening at another friend’s residence. As she approached her home, they met her alleged attacker, a known neighbor asked Gaika for a cigarette. Gaika then said she gave him one and stayed to smoke with him while her friends walked on. A few minutes later, the man refused to pass the cigarette to Gaika and walked into his room.
When Gaika attempted to recover her cigarette, the man locked the door and it was then he began raping her.
Said Gaika, “He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me with wire and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.”
Ms. Gaika also said her alleged attacker had never objected to her sexuality before. “He was very nice to me – I’d known him for years.”
The attack on Gaika continued for nearly 5 hours, and only ended after neighbors finally heard her screams, broke down the assailant’s door and found Gaika naked from the waist down on a bed and bleeding. They then held the assailant until police arrived.
Gaika’s attacker has been arrested and remained in custody through series of bail hearing postponements (continuances.) in the Wynberg Magistrates Court.
Lezgetreal has been helping to support the group Luleki Sizwe, an unfunded organization of other rape victim lesbians who take care of each other when suffering such trauma a result of now endemic “corrective rape.”
The desperate e-mail was received today after the bail hearing was heard:
Andile Ncoza the man who brutally raped Milly is out on bail and
we are all fuming. Millcent wants to commit suicide. She is so scared he will come and kill her. The South African Government is hopeless. They said Andile raped a women not a lesbian.
Under South African law, when Bail is granted it must be an amount that the alleged perpetrator / accused can afford, otherwise the Judge must not grant Bail at all. Unlike in the USA, the very act of granting bail demonstrates that the Judge believes the accused should be released on his own recognizance.
This is an outrage- This is a clear demonstration that LGBT right, Human Rights and Woman’s rights are of absolutely NO concern to Zuma and his administration. This is a case where the victim was rescued in the act of being strangled with barbed wire by a group of neighbors who heard the screams. They were able to wrestle the accused to the ground. There is no question of identity and the witnesses are numerous. How dare the government treat victims with such flipancy.
The South African government is absolutely complicit in injustice and business will go on as usual hailing the World Cup Soccer in a Country where 500,000 women are raped every year.
Any international team who goes to South Africa is risking the taint of hypocrisy. The International community boycotted, and quite rightly so, South African Sports during apartheid, yet this unconscionable endemic assault on women in South Africa, despite many reports in media, is ignored.
Ironically Millicent is an avid soccer player – and recently rejoined her team, two months after her trauma. She will now have to forgo her soccer career and go back into hiding while due to this bail release, her mental anguish will continue in effect, to inflict the very same trauma suffered on that fateful night.
Millicent has been raped three separate times. The first time was by a gang of 5, all of whom were sentenced to 15 years in prison. How much can one person suffer – no wonder this courageous woman is suicidal.
I call on all women’s soccer teams to speak out about this grave injustice to women. I also call on the US Congress to look into the possibilities of passing a resolution calling on the ZUMA government for severe human rights infractions.
By Melanie Nathan
Destitute Organization helps Lesbian Victims of Corrective Rape
Tomorrow, Wednesday April, 14, 2010, I will be participating in a blog radio fund raiser to help of Millicent Gaika, the South African woman who after being brutally raped, is destitute. In a state of shock and trauma, she is unable to pursue her medical needs and the organization that has been helping her has exhausted all their funds.
Ndumi Funda , who lost her partner to such viscous rape, is one of the founding members of the the group, “Luleki ‘Isizwe Womyn’s Project,” which was born from what has now become systemic, the corrective rape of Township lesbians in South Africa. Desperate for money they continue to help 8 victims who they are currently housing, not knowing how many more sisters may seek help, at any time.
In African culture names are not just names, they have deep meaning. It connects the child to the family and community. Because of this connectedness, the child’s duty is to live in harmony with this name.
This is What Ndumi has written -
“So where does our name come from?
The first part of our name comes from Luleka Makiwane, who was a lesbian woman. She lived openly and had no shame about her sexuality. She was a strong and powerful woman, and even though she fought for lesbian women’s rights, she connected strongly to the struggles of the poor in general. She worked tireless to fight against violence against all women. This did not protect her though, and she was violated by her own cousin who raped her. The reason he did it ‘was to prove that she was a woman, not a man.’ As a result of the rape she became a victim to HIV AIDS and died in 2005. She spoke about her rape and status with many of the gay community to try and educate and bring awareness of sexual and sexuality abuse.
The second part of our name comes from Nosizwe Nomsa Bizana, who was a lesbian woman. She too was raped, gang raped by five men, because of her sexuality. Unfortunately as a result of the vicious rape, she succumbed to Cripto Meningitis in December 16, 2007. Her story is sad, the trauma of the rape silenced her in the beginning, and she could not share this with the community. It took a while before she could share this experience with her mother and her partner at the time. In the end, before she passed away she was happy to be involved in the HIV Booklets of Triangle Project and thus disclose her HIV status to the broader community.
There is a general belief that lesbian women are a low risk group in terms of sexually transmitted diseases and especially HIV/AIDS. This opinion does not however take into consideration the high levels of rape, also called ‘corrective rape,’ that particularly township-based lesbians are exposed to and which puts them at risk for STI’s and HIV/AIDS.
The stories of Luleka and Nosizwe are not the only stories that we can tell. There are many whose stories will most probably never be told or their lives being honored in the way which we are trying to do with our initiative. Nonetheless, we have named our project as a means to celebrate and recognize the lives and contributions of these two lesbian women who have experienced great hardship and struggle when they were alive. Yet they continued to fight and resist against homophobia and gender based violence in the communities that they lived in.
FOUNDING MEMBERS: Ndumie Funda / Nozuko / Olivia / Nkulie / Puleng / Pam
Wake Up America 2010
Date / Time: 4/14/2010 2:00 PM
Call-in Number: (347) 838-9073
Calling out Media & South African Government on Corrective Rape of Millicent Gaika
Millicent Gaika days after the attack
Melanie Nathan; Nov 21, 2010 - A wealthy young British couple, traveling in Gugulethu on Honeymoon, was hijacked last week, and tragically the beautiful wife, Anni Dewani, was fatally shot, causing an international media blitz and outcry. South Africa is rampant in crime which more often than not goes unchecked and the Zuma government has done very little to assert any effective control. However when this story has the Police in first gear; aware of the attention, and impact on tourism, have gone all out – not a resource withheld – solving the crime and taking care of the victims.
I have been following the story of the brutal rape of a young lesbian soccer player, Millicent Gaika, shedding light on the plight of many more such cases in the Southern African Country; Milly was raped in the same township, Gugulethu, where the British couple suffered their tragedy; and what stands in stark contrast to Milly’s case is 3 disturbing truths:
1. Milly has received no resources whatsoever from the South African authorities to help her with her medical needs, her safety issues, her transportation to give evidence, trauma counseling - all while the accused is out on bail and threatening her life; Milly as a surviving victim has been badly treated.
2. Notwithstanding her day in Court, and many bail proceedings for the accused, Milly has had no ongoing mainstream Media coverage in South Africa, despite coverage in USA, UK and Germany; and
3. Milly’s perpetrator is free on the street, despite being re-arrested for breaching his bail conditions by approaching a witness and threatening her life, in the very area that he was restricted from being in.
Two Letters have come my way that speak for what is happening. One is from Ndumie Funda, co-founder of Luleki Sizwe, whose life is under threat – she is the brave warrior who has been housing and caring for a group of fifteen lesbians in a 2 room tiny leaking shack all being victims of corrective rape, and some who have contracted HIV/AIDs as a result.
The Police have suspects in custody in the Brit tragedy and I have no doubt Justice will be swift in the very same Wynberg Court where Milly’s justice is sought. There will be two differences:
1. The wealthy Brits will have transport and security paid and attended to by SA Authorities;
2. The accused in the Brit case will not see the light of day, there will be no bail; unlike in Milly’s case where her accused paid R60 ($6.00) bail and broke his bail terms and then got arrested for breaking his bail terms by threatening the life Ndumie, the person who cares for victims, only to get set free again without even an appearance in Court.
RESULTING IN more threats to their lives . This is a call to action – We need to hear from Mainstream Media and Andile must go back into prison, and his family put on notice for continuing the threats to life. Short of this more blood will shed and this is an outrage.
Letter from Ndumie Funda from Luleki Sizwe in her words (English her second language)
to Melanie Nathan
I pray every day that you don’t get tired of reading my sad emotional draining emails, yesterday was another day for me, where i got approached by 2 guys whom i grew up with in Gugulethu. They warned me that Andile the Ngcoza’s family has asked them to look me up and their are also his acquaintances. The didn’t know it was someone that they know, still i don’t trust them . Another stress i just received a call from the investigating officer Mr Sonday that the Andile was released by the magistrate because he said to them he was in Gugs mall because he was asked to drive his sister plus they were preparing for
the family funeral of his late sister, who’s funeral happened last month. So in all his out again this time its me who’s not safe. Sonday has asked to be careful where I’m going. Those who’s been to my place you know that I’m not safe at all. prayers…prayers i need that. I’m not sure of my safety any more. eish I sleep with my golf stick every night.
i really feel like killing my self right now thn tching this justice sytem yeere god. Love Ndumie
Here is a letter that the UK representative of Luleki Sizwe wrote to the Minister of Justice in South Africa. I have written to the South African Consuls in the USA and I think tourism ought to be threatened with boycott. Crime in South Africa breeds from ignoring the rights of all VICTIMS. I have canceled my vacation trip to South Africa as a result of this case; and may attend only for the trial.
Minister Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, MP
Deputy Minister Andries Carl Nel, MP
Last week there was much news coverage in the UK of the hijacked wedding couple in Gugulethu and the tragedy of the terrible and violent loss of life. The police response and the capture of the attacker were prompt and applaudable.
BUT today I learn with disgust of the lack of response and support when the victim is not an overseas national with associated press coverage and risks to tourism income.
My friend Ndumie Funda has been acknowledged in the UK press and US and German news stations (to name but a few) for her work fighting against ‘corrective rape’ in the townships of Cape Town.
dumie has been supporting and campaigning for a victim of corrective rape whose case has been in court recently and which continues in to the new year. The accused was out on bail and has threatened Ndumie and other charity supporters. When he was found in Gugulethu in contravention of his bail conditions he was returned to jail but he managed to send men to follow Ndumie and threaten her safety. The police said that they were ‘unable’ to help. The accused has now been released and Ndumie’s life is in danger yet she has received no help from the authorities.
This is a disgrace.
Your country guarantees the rights of gay and lesbian people, including the right to same sex marriages and YET corrective rape continues within the townships and also continues to be ignored by the authorities and the justice system.
There are supporters around the world who are currently spreading the word of the current situation regarding Ndumie’s safety. In the light of your prompt action in the recent hijack case I sincerely hope that you can put the police to work protecting the safety and rights of your own citizens.
I draw your attention to your own service charter for victims of crime
- The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for dignity and privacy.
- The right to offer information.
- The right to receive information.
- The right to protection.
- The right to assistance.
- The right to compensation.
- The right to restitution
fighting against ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa
Updated Millicent Gaika’s Case Postponed;While her Life is in Danger
Melanie Nathan -Nov 10, 2010:- Wynberg, Cape Town; We reported that Millicent Gaika again takes the stand in her brave endeavor to find justice; against her rapist caught in the act, trying to kill her. Millicent is there to show that women who are deemed inferior in that culture and the chattel of men, are in fact the true warriors; she is there for every victim that has suffered under the misnoma – “corrective rape.” (UPDATED)
BUT that did not happen. Her case has been postponed to Feb 11th; reason unknown at this time. This is outrageous in the face of the fact that her assailant is free and her neighbor and has threatened her life. Prosecutors should apply for the bail withdrawal based on threats to her life, since she has been trying to testify. Millicent as already felt suicidal in the face of abject fear and rejection by the authorities. Imagine living for the next three months having to look over your shoulder for fear of the same happening again in the name of reprisal and hate.
This is typical of the Justice system in South Africa when it comes to cases of this nature. Recently a case where four men were held for murdering a lesbian in a hate crime, the case was continued 31 times. That case is four years old.
Since posting my story last week about Milly’s first appearance, and her bad treatment by the South African Authorities, thousands have read our article. Hundreds of E-mails and letters of support and good wishes have poured in for Milly about her courage and tenacity. One person also started a facebook page for Millicent which garnished 170 supporters in a short time. I have passed on all readers good wishes to her in Cape Town.
Milly is terrified to testify and she has felt suicidal, unworthy – Our readers outpouring of support has helped Milly to see who she really is – a courageous warrior and a symbol for any survivor of such heinous torture. She travels on a bus to Court – the same bus that the perpetrator – out on bail and her neighbor- will travel to go to the Court.
Mob of Angry Lesbians Chase Rapist at Court-in Corrective Rape Case of Millicent Gaika
Melanie Nathan 11-10-10;
Perhaps some street justice would resolve the situation with the coward, said the first comment that followed this information release, sent by Ndumie Funda from the Wynberg Magistrates Court Wednesday, after Millicent Gaika’ s rape case was set for a second day of testimony, but then postponed to next year. Her assailant who left her inches from death is out on bail and Milicent continues in abject fear, living close to the man since May when the incident occurred.
This was to be was the second day for Millicent to testify abut the brutal attack against her by perpetrator Andile Ncoza; again she was alone in court facing her perpetrator. Again the courageous witness got there by public transport with her mother. The case started at 10am, the perpetrator lied to the magistrate saying he was having a relationship with the victim,
Ndumie Funda who was at the Court today, reports that “During the tea break Millicent came out court very angry,with tears rolling down from her eyes to tell me what Andile said to magistrate ; I then told the angry mob of township lesbians and supporters . All hell break loose they chased the accused who ran inside the court seeking help of the prosecutor and the police and they said to him there’s nothing they can do.
12.30pm the case was postponed to 1 February 2010. War broke out as the angry mob of lesbians wanted to beat Andile Ncoza; he ran and locked himself in the toilet for about an hour,people were waiting for him he got escorted by police to the taxi rank.
We’ve got a new investigating officer his name is Investigating officer Sonday
this is his number 082 5221068/case number is 54/94/2010.Today is our first meeting with Sonday together with Millicent and her mother.Will keep all of you updated .That’s the dog that raped Millicent’s picture
More Unions in South Africa Speaking out Against Corrective Rape & Homophobia
Corrective Rape Equals Murder
This Union has been saddened and deeply disturbed by the murder of Comrade Noxolo Nogwaza, who was laid to rest in the presence of thousands of activists and community members on the 1st May, Workers Day. Comrade Noxolo who was just 24 years old was found dead in the Kwa-Thema township last week and is believed to be the latest lesbian victim of so-called “corrective rape” , a barbaric practice that is supposed to ‘straighten out’ the lesbian members of our community by subjecting them to gang rape.
Comrade Noxolo was a leading member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC), the key LGBTI organisation in Kwa-Thema that has attempted to ensure that the provisions of South Africa’s Constitution be respected and applied equally to all members of the community regardless of their sexual orientation. Reports of the nature of the attack on Comrade Noxolo can only be described as sickening. Suffice it to say that after enduring the most degrading of treatment at the hands of a mob of men, she was bludgeoned to death by stoning.
So far, no arrests have been made, and not a single senior politician has seen fit to offer condolences to Comrade Noxolo’s family and the community she tirelessly served to free from homophobic discrimination. This union takes the opportunity to lower its banner in respect to this comrade, and we hope many others will follow.
Corrective Rape Equals Murder
Sadly, the murder of Comrade Noxolo is not an isolated incident. Over the last ten years, no less than 30 lesbians have been murdered in this way, and that is only those cases that have been reported. The total may be far higher. In 2008 Eudy Simelane, a popular and talented South African Banyan Banyana footballer and lesbian activist, was raped and murdered in Kwa-Thema under equally horrific circumstances. Gay men have also been subjected to violent attacks. How many more innocent women and men must be murdered and attacked before those responsible are arrested?
The term ‘corrective rape’ is no longer appropriate or accurate. Given the number of murders, and the manner in which they take place, clearly the intention of those committing such hate crimes is not to ‘cure’ or ‘correct’ their victims, but to punish them by depriving them of their right to live. They also want to send a crude and threatening message to all those who wish to freely express their sexuality, that they do so at grave personal risk.
Of course we must do all within our power to understand why such terrible acts of violence are taking place in our communities, in order to strategize about how to both challenge negative attitudes and the horrendous practices that accompany them. We must deepen an understanding of the legacy of a dehumanising apartheid, and the violent distortions it created. We must understand and challenge the persistence of a patriarchal system that reinforces notions of male superiority, undermines gender equality and effectively criminalises those who happen to be gay or lesbian. We must demand that our Government takes this issue seriously, and puts into practice the spirit of our much heralded Constitution that outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. This is the least we can do.
Homophobia Divides the Working Class
But the task before us all at the moment is to stand four square with those sections of our community who are under attack because of their preferred sexual orientation. This is not just a personal matter, but is also a profoundly political one. If we are to build a new society based on tolerance and equality, on the notion that an injury to one is an injury to all, we have to add our voices to all those demanding an end to such murderous activities, and commit ourselves to raising these issues in our own organisations. We have to strengthen linkages with those organisations that campaign against homophobia and all forms of discrimination that has the potential of dividing our class. For as long as one section of our community is oppressed, we all remain in chains.
Our sympathy and condolences go to Comrade Nxolo’s loving and supportive family, and especially to the two children she has left behind. We hope that they will one day manage to see beyond the horror of what has happened, and recognise and be proud of the wonderfully warm and courageous person their mother was.
Statement issued by Steve Faulkner, SAMWU’s International and Equality Officer, May 3 2011
Letter to SA Consul Re Corrective Rape of Lesbians
Melanie Nathan – 8-24-10
I wrote an article a few days ago; August 21, 2010- and it received a wide net response. The offers of support prompted me to send a letter the South African Consul General in the USA, based in New York City. I believe there is another office in Los Angeles as well.
South Africa is known as the ‘Rape Capital’ of the world, with mind blowing statistics of around 500,000 rapes per year. This is a human rights catastrophe of untold proportion- with the HIV/AIDS ramification serving as the lethal weapon of mass destruction. Especially sinister is the flagrant finger flip to each and every victim, as the entire world cheered metaphorically on, aiding and abetting the somnolent South African Government, akin to perpetrators, like an Oudtshoorn ostrich with its head deeply embedded in the sand, while women continued to be raped day after day, each hour
South African Consulate
August 22, 2010
Dear Madam Consul,
We are a widely read LGBT publication / news magazine here in the USA. We have grave concerns about the treatment of women in South Africa,with special regard to the extremely high incidence of rape; and especially our lesbian sisters who seem to be subjected to the insiduous and disregarded hate crime termed “corrective rape.”
I have been in direct contact with the local authorities in South Africa regarding some of the reported atrocities – in some cases by victims directly to me here in the USA, noting - cases involving CT TECH and other students who are afraid to report the rapes; for fear of of repercussions, in coming out as lesbians.
Authorities in South Africa have informed me that the South African Government has no direct initiative/s regarding the prevention/ education/ victim support of lesbian “corrective rape” cases and that it is not acknowledged at all as an incidence of hate crime.
I had a recent report of bail of a mere R60.00 granted to an accused rapist – who knew his victim personally. The accused was caught in the act of the crime. The victim is currently terrified for her life, without police protection. This is the third time this victim has been raped for being a lesbian and is currently in the care of friends on suicide watch. There is no medical treatment or help available to the victims for fear of further retaliation.
We find this to be shocking and invite your comments on the subject as we plan on writing more reports about the victims and their needs.
Thank you for your kind attention to this very serious and complex issue.
Corrective Rape Petition Causes Chaos for South African Authorities
Melanie Nathan- Jan 12-2011— The petition “South Africa Declare Corrective Rape a Hate-Crime” hit the all-time high of 135,000 signatures on 4 January, 2011 – what a way to begin the New Year! The petition is still up and still growing – it is currently standing on a 135, 235… and still growing by the minute! The publicity for the plight of corrective rape victims was partly birthed here on my blog when Ndumie Funda reached out to me back in 2009. After publishing the story and horrific pictures of “corrective” rape survivor, Millicent Gaika, we continued to follow the storyand some twenty articles later, with approximately 40,000 page hits and over 6,000 shares on Face book, watched as awareness of the endemic crisis in South Africa made it to the pages of other media outlets as well as the conscience of activists in the UK and other countries.
When Ndumie first contacted me, she was caring for a fifteen lesbians, victims of so called corrective rape- in Gugulethu, near Cape Town South Africa. They were desperate, no food and no money and on the verge of eviction from their flooded two room shack. I reached out to my South African contacts a large group of white privileged lesbians in South Africa, but no one helped. I reached out to the SA authorities and they were non responsive, I sent letters to US Consul, no answer. Finally I sent a month of my own mortgage money from the USA and also a dear cousin in Cape Town, Judy Favish, paid a visit taking money and supplies to Ndumie and the lesbian survivors.
Still raising money was slow, and then we started to hear from people abroad – Jules Hussey in the UK, and others jumped in and secured a large contribution from LUSH a cosmetic UK Company – which enabled Ndumie to buy a safe house for vicitms. See http://www.lush.co.uk/articles/our-charity-support/groups-we-support/luleki-sizwe_1013-10154_10.html
We continued with our stories about the ridiculous bail, and the arrest and re-release of the known perpetrators, we reported more rapes, and suicides of victims and did this for the best part of a year until now when the resulting Petition drew so many signatures that the SA authorities can barely cope.
Soon a Petition appeared on Change.org and who have over 135, 000 signatures from 163 countries, and local and international Media attention; we have been interviewed by KayaFM, BBC, had articles on my Blog, The Argus, Business Day, and The Sowetan, and requests for interviews from the SABC, Voice of America, and many more national and international Media Houses! The signatures were collected in a matter of a month.
According to the article in the Business Day:
Justice spokesman Tlali Tlali acknowledged the receipt of the e-mails yesterday. “We view this matter in a serious light. Whether it is labelled as corrective rape or something else, it does not detract from the fact that (it is) … rape, punishable under our law regardless of what motivates those behind it to do so. “We have interacted with the (National Prosecuting Authority) and have requested them to look into these cases,” he said.
When Ndumie Funda finally managed to contact the Justice Department this morning, she was told by a visibly irritated Tlali-Tlali that he needs time until the 15th to respond to our petition, and he was not willing to set up a meeting with us at this time. (The only response to change.org when the petition was still on about 60,000, was a terse email from Tlali Tlali, the minister’s chief of staff, to Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org, saying that the minister finds it “wholly unnecessary for you to send so many individualized emails whose content is the same… You have made it virtually impossible for us to access other emails as doing so is like looking for a needle in a haystack.” )
Well, Mr Tlali-Tlali, we have news for you – you have not seen anything yet! LulekiSizwe, with the help of change.org, and continued help of LezGetReal, is bringing in all the local and international big-guns to fight the good fight!
DEMANDING a meeting with Minister Radebe to put the case to him, and these are the short-term goals being demanded -
- We want the Government to acknowledge the existence of “Corrective Rape” ~ currently they are trying to deny that such a thing exists.
- The introduction into the school-syllabus of anti-homophobic instruction and information, for the educators and the pupils, as a lot of the rapes and homophobic bullying occurs in schools, by pupils and educators.
- A FEMALE officer who is trained to handle all aspects of rape on duty at ALL police stations 24/7 , or a social worker trained in the same at ALL police stations.
- Anti-homophobic training for ALL South African Police Members! (The detective who took Millie’s first statement was a drunk, homophobic male!)
- A minimum bail amount for LGBTI violent crimes, and no chance of getting out on bail again if they break bail conditions (Andile R60)
- A Minimum sentence of 25-life for corrective rape!
- The right to a speedy trial – currently the court-cases are taking years! (howcome the Anni Dewani trial could be handled so quickly, yet our local rapes and murders take years?)
- Victim assistance in the form of safe-houses when needed, as the perpetrator usually goes to the same school or lives in the same area as the victim, and they are traumatized and threatened daily.
- A Task force to deal with LGBTQI crimes, or at least 1 detective @ each Police Station (especially in the townships) that handles all the LGBTI cases, so that they know what they are dealing with and how to handle the cases, as each time it is a different detective and there is no continuity.
- A clampdown on the bribery and corruption at Police Stations and Courts, where the dockets are often “lost”
Millicent Gaika’s case comes to trial again Next Month in Wynberg magistrates Court.
Petition needs 15,000 more signatures to reach its goal.
By Melanie Nathan