Condemn all types of hate crimes

2011-05-07 11:55

Last December, South Africa was praised for breaking ranks with other African countries and changing its own stance to vote for the adoption of the United ­Nations General Assembly decision in favour of restoring reference to “sexual orientation” in a high-profile resolution condemning ­extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of what the UN referred to as vulnerable groups.

We were part of 93 countries that incensed mainly African and Muslim states that sought to have the reference to sexual orientation removed from the original text that explicitly referred to killings committed against minorities on the basis of racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons, and killings of refugees, indigenous ­people and other groups.

It was a high point for our international ­diplomacy position, which is oftentimes ­confusing because it tends to be swayed more by realpolitik and is not always true to the values we claim to hold.

The past few weeks must make our gay ­compatriots, especially lesbians, and refugees wonder whether South Africa was committed to the declaration it voted in favour of or whether it was just a public relations stunt.

The East Rand township of KwaThema has ­become a veritable graveyard for lesbian women and a happy hunting ground for homophobes who operate with impunity, which makes our vote at that historical juncture a hollow experience.

One of the latest victims of this crime of hate and extreme prejudice is Noxolo Nogwaza, who was murdered after being subjected to a ­“corrective rape” for no other reason than that she was lesbian.

It is heartening to hear that the state has set up a task team to investigate hate crimes against gay people.

No intervention aimed at saving lives should be deemed too late if other potential ­victims are still alive. We have to ask though why it has taken the state so long to react to what has been a present danger.

The same sense of impunity applies to those who have arrogated to themselves the power to decide which foreign nationals may work, trade or live in South Africa.

There are enough warning signs that we might soon witness xenophobic ­attacks against foreign traders in Soweto and parts of the East Rand.

The state is eerily quiet in warning those plotting evil or reassuring the ­potential victim that it will deal harshly with
any lawlessness.

We hope the state does not have to wait until another foreign trader is murdered before it sets up a task force similar to the one probing lesbian murders.

The South African government must not let the excitement of elections cause it to abandon its ­responsibilities to its citizens and commitments to international diplomacy.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.