Duduzile Zozo: Lost to prejudice

2013-07-07 14:00

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A daughter, dear friend and dreamer brutally murdered at 26

Duduzile Zozo loved Kaizer Chiefs. When her team lost a game – especially against fierce rivals Orlando Pirates – she refused to eat.

She was a hard-working young woman who desperately wanted to buy or build her mother a better home than the one-room rented shack the two shared with eight other people.

Zozo played soccer with the young men in her Thokoza neighbourhood on the East Rand of Johannesburg. None of them seemed to mind that she was a woman – or that she was a lesbian who made no attempt to hide her sexuality.

She and her family had lived in various parts of Thokoza since the birth of democracy in 1994. In that time, her sexuality had never publicly caused problems. She was not harassed. Nobody called her names.

But last Saturday night, the support and acceptance Zozo had always enjoyed came to a brutal, shocking end.

Nobody knows for sure what happened to Zozo after she left a tavern where she’d spent the night with friends.

Her mother, Thuziwe, found Zozo’s violated body at 8am on Sunday morning, partially clothed, dumped in a corner of a neighbour’s yard. A toilet brush had been jammed into her vagina. She was just metres from her family’s front door.

On Thursday, Zozo’s colleagues at the Shoprite in Germiston’s Golden Walk mall gathered to pay their respects.

Zozo, a cashier, was described during a series of tributes as a “dear friend, always laughing and full of jokes”.

Her closest friend and colleague, Busisiwe Nkosi, told City Press how Zozo had nursed her back to health when she was sick in hospital.

“As young as she was, she was the only person I spoke to when I had problems and challenges. She was a shoulder to cry on, and a dear friend,” Nkosi sobbed.

Shoprite manager Eric Mageba delivered a powerful tribute – and had tough words for those who hate gays and lesbians. Men must stop judging homosexuals, he said.

Back in Thokoza, neighbour Jabulile Khumalo told City Press Zozo was committed to her family. Khumalo has known the family since 1994.

“Not once did she leave her mother and siblings to carve a separate life from the family,” Khumalo said. Instead, Zozo took a train to work and back each day – a trip of an hour and a half. She made no attempt to find a home closer to work.

“She was not ashamed of her mother, her situation or her family,” said Khumalo.

Thuziwe is shattered by her daughter’s grisly death. “I feel naked and extremely hurt,” she said. Zozo, the third of five children, is survived by her mother, brother Phumlani, sister Zukiseni and twins, brother Yamkwelwa and sister Yonelwa.

Thuziwe Zozo (centre) tries to hold back her tears during a memorial service for her slain daughter Duduzile. Flanking her are neighbours Jabulile Khumalo (left) and Mpho Motlatsoe. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/City Press

She will be buried in Thokoza on Saturday.

No arrests had been made at the time of going to press.

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