Govt team to fight gay hate crimes

2011-05-04 14:23

Johannesburg - A national task team will be set up to tackle hate crimes against lesbians and gays, the justice and constitutional development ministry said on Wednesday.

The decision came in response to a 170 000-strong, campaign calling for action on "corrective rape", spokesperson Tlali Tlali said in a statement.

It followed the murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, who was stoned, stabbed with broken glass and gang-raped in Kwa-Thema township, Johannesburg last month.

Used condoms, a beer bottle and a large rock were found on or beside Nogwaza's body. She was a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee.

"Corrective rape" is a hate crime in which men rape lesbians to "cure" them of their sexual orientation.

Working with officials

Tlali said the decision to set up a task team was taken on Tuesday during a meeting at Parliament of senior officials and activists. It would begin deliberations on July 15.

It would include six representatives from the judiciary and the police and social development, and six representatives from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

"The team will be charged with developing a legislative intervention plan, a public awareness strategy, and LGBTI-sensitive shelters," he said.

In response to the government action, Ndumie Funda, founder of Luleki Sizwe, an organisation that advocates for the rights of township lesbians, said: "It shows that they are willing to work with the gay community, but we continue to fight for LGBTI rights until the last drops of blood are spilled."

Benjamin Joffe-Walt, a representative of, said what the campaign accomplished was "remarkable".

"In less than six months, a tiny group of township activists have mobilised more than 170 000 people from 163 countries and [got] the highest levels of government to address their basic demand, that the sadistic crime of 'corrective rape' be taken seriously."

Preventative measures

Intervention options discussed at the meeting included: amending the Sexual Offences Act to include the victim's sexual orientation as an aggravating factor, which would lead to heavier sentences.

Preventative measures such as allowing for equality courts to address harassment, discrimination or hate speech, and consultations on minimum sentences for hate crimes, including rape on the basis of sexual orientation, were also considered.

The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa on Wednesday called on the ANC Women's League to raise awareness of gay and lesbian rights.

"The front-line role of the ANCWL will go a long way in creating a climax of understanding and acceptance of gay and lesbian people as an... integral part of our society," spokesperson Castro Ngobese said.

"Gay and lesbian people have a right to exist and be free in our country without any fear or threats of murder or intimidation."

No arrests for Nogwaza’s death

Human Rights Watch told French news agency AFP on Tuesday that evidence suggested Nogwaza had been targeted because she was a lesbian, and that the murder "appears to be the latest in an epidemic of brutal homophobic attacks".

The attack is said to be reminiscent of the 2008 murder of Eudy Simelane, who played for the SA women's national soccer team.

Simelane's partially-clothed body was found in an open field in KwaThema. She had been gang raped, beaten, and stabbed 25 times in the face, chest, and legs.

Two men were found guilty of the killing, and two others acquitted.

Police spokesperson Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou said on Wednesday no arrests for Nogwaza's murder had been made yet, and investigations were continuing.

Cosatu called the crime "an act of male chauvinism and patriarchy", and said it was disappointed that the perpetrators were still on the run.

"We request the community to refuse to be silent and assist the police with whatever information they can give that can lead to the speedy arrest of those criminals,"

Cosatu gender co-ordinator, Gertrude Mtsweni said: "Our country does not deserve such an act in this 21st century."

  • Jack - 2011-05-04 14:32

    A govt team? In other words, nothing substantial will be done other than transporting the team in new vehicles.

  • Senzo N. Dhlomo - 2011-05-04 14:35

    I wonder how much this 'team' will get done *sigh!!

  • Lydon - 2011-05-04 14:36

    Great move by government!

  • DW - 2011-05-04 14:42

    If I remember correctly, Zuma himself has spoken out against gay practises. If the hate is there from the top, how do they expect to root it out at ground level?

  • Jack - 2011-05-04 14:48

    Quite a ridiculous term “hate crime”: as if all other crimes are committed with love and thoughtfulness. A crime is a crime, based upon the lawful definition. Giving a particular crime higher verbal accreditation shouldn’t detract the urgency to prevent other crimes due to a particular individual’s disposition. Be that hue or choice of orifice gratification.

  • RGL - 2011-05-04 14:58

    Electioneering ...

  • Badger - 2011-05-04 15:05

    Why not rid the entire country of crime, why now only hate crime ??????? and only with 170 000 signatures. Do you thinks these F's in governmunt would do anything about the crime if we got say 45 MILLION signatures ?????????????????????????

      Warren Pridgeon - 2011-05-04 15:42

      So....technically... if we got 170 000 signatures we could get them to form a task team to eliminate general crime... I have even thought out a name for them!!! we shall call the task team.... THE POLICE! WAHAHAHA!

  • Gorilla - 2011-05-04 15:39

    Hilda's task team? Brilliant.

  • Colin - 2011-05-04 15:41

    Maybe their first case should be an investigation into the ACDP?

  • - 2011-05-04 15:54

    I wonder what they are going to call this crack team?

  • Anonymous Thinker - 2011-05-04 15:56

    How about a rape task team in general? Its not just homosexual women and men that are raped! Too many rapes go unreported, unsolved and incared about.

  • Christian Herbst - 2011-05-04 15:57

    Well, bravo for the Government for listening. Hope this will continue in the rest of our society and something substantially be done. And not just an Election campaign.

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-05-04 16:00

    READ ON.... Under Pressure, South Africa Begins to Confront 'Corrective Rape' When a local group in South Africa launched a petition demanding that their government address 'corrective rape' -- the sickening epidemic of rapes of lesbian women to 'turn them straight' -- they were, at first, ignored. But when their petition reached 170,000 signatures, the government noticed -- and now, with nearly a million of us signed on and massive media attention, the pressure for meaningful action is becoming unstoppable.

      Warren Pridgeon - 2011-05-04 16:32

      Sadly it is not because of the signatures that government took notice... it's because it is election time... How many people have signed HOW MANY petitions in the past without any result?

  • jaycee - 2011-05-04 16:51

    Without discrediting the formation of this task team, I hope the government knows it is showing selective action to fight crime. If only the government was so enthusiastic in fighting farm murders.

  • Pro - 2012-06-01 15:41

    Dear ANC, what about a "team" to investigate and stop HATE CRIMES against races? How many black/white people must die before you do something about that. Lastly, we all know if you use the word "team", it is going to be a disaster. Basically, it is just a bunch of government family members that needed money and found a cause for it. For the next year or two, this "team" will race across the highways in their BIG BMW's, with police escort, to get to their next lunch meeting. Weekends they will go on tax funded vacations at the best resorts. Then, another "team" will be funded to help or investigate the old "team" due to the corruption. In the end, just we, the taxpayer, looses.

  • pages:
  • 1