Makhutle Family still waiting for justice for Thapelo as murder case postponed again

Video report – Brutal murder of gay volunteer in South Africa – confessed accused in court and insight into the life of the murder victim

by Melanie Nathan, May, 01, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 8.20.44 AM Thapelo Makhutle, a member and volunteer of LEGBO, was brutally murdered on 9 June 2012, and almost a year later, despite a confession from the accused, who was caught with the victims laptop, the trial is being continued.  (Iranti).  Makhutle’s throat was slit in the early hours of Saturday 9 June  after he had been out with friends. It was reported that his attacker cut off his genitals and stuffed them into his mouth. Since July last year, the case has been postponed four times. Finally the case will be tried in the Vryburg High Court on May 27, 2013.  The administrative delays have denied the Makhutle family the justice and closure they deserve. These delays are not untypical in the South African justice system.

The accused and confessed murderer is Sizwe Jajini.

The story of the murder was fully reported by the Guardian:

Thapelo Makhutle’s body was found by his best friend in his tiny room in the small Kalahari town of Kuruman in the Northern Cape on Saturday morning, June 9. He had been beheaded, his genitals hacked off, his tongue cut out and his testicles stuffed into his mouth. Makhutle’s best friend, Mosiami Boyang, said the night before Makhutle was brutally murdered was just a normal Friday night out with friends in Seoding ­village outside Kuruman. “We were at the Tshesa Nyama tavern having a few drinks,” Boyang said. “Thapelo and I would always go outside together and say ‘did you see what that girl is wearing?’ or ‘did you see that cute guy?’”

A man approached Makhutle asking about his sexuality – everyone in Seoding knew he was gay. An argument ensued but was quickly ended. After that, Makhutle left the tavern without saying goodbye.

“Later, I wanted to go to Thapelo’s room to see him, but I knew he had to work the next day so I decided not to bother him,” Boyang said. “I walked right past his room. I wonder what would have happened if I had gone inside then?”

The next morning Boyang went to Makhutle’s room. It was a complete mess. Only when he peered around the damaged door and lifted the blankets at his feet did he see his friend’s bloody, mangled body…….

It is the grisly details of how 23-year-old Makhutle was murdered that have stunned the conservative Kuruman community. Many believe the murderer was sending out a crude message to gay men: if you want to be a woman, I will make you one.

“When Jesus comes back the dead will rise up and walk with him, but how will Thapelo be able to do that? Will he walk as a man or a woman?” said a resident, Cate Dikgetse, who lives near Makhutle’s room.

Rooted in cultural traditions and religious beliefs, many residents of Kuruman are deeply conservative. Gay and lesbian people may be tolerated on the surface, but they are not accepted by everyone.

They are also identified by their sexual orientation. Dikgetse said: “When a gay or lesbian person walks down the street, people say: ‘There he is, that is a gay.’”

In the 224 rural villages that surround Kuruman the conservative beliefs of old still dominate.

Shaine Griqua, director of Legbo, a Northern Cape gay rights organisation for which the slain Makhutle also volunteered, said if one walked around the streets of Kuruman and its surrounding villages “seven out of 10 people you speak to will say that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex is immoral, ungodly and unAfrican”.


Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 8.19.00 AM

Sizwe Jajini

According to Shaine Griqua, Director of Legbo Northern Cape, at the first hearing on June 25, 2013,  activists who attended the court appearance reported that the alleged killer was arrogant and appeared to show no remorse. “We’ve very happy about the arrest. We just want to see justice done,” Griqua said at the time. “We hope that Thapelo’s death will highlight the need for more resources and structures to support LGBTI people in under-developed areas such as the Northern Cape,” he added.

WATCH THIS REPORT and see the accused at the hearing:-

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