JOHANNESBURG: LGBTI ACTIVIST MURDERED IN THE SOUTH AFRICA’S NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE
Date : 6/16/2012
[Johannesburg] – The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights [AMSHeR] strongly condemns the brutal murder of Thapelo Makutle, a 24-year old LGBTI activist in Seoding near Kuruman in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province on 9 June 2012. Thapelo Makutle was a member of LEGBO [the Northern Cape’s LGBTI human rights organization] and the Northern Cape NGO Coalition.
Thapelo Makutle was found in the early hours of 9 June 2012; his throat had been slit across. Unconfirmed reports indicate that his genitals had been severed and stuffed into his mouth. Thapelo’s murder is the latest in a number of violent attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex [LGBTI] persons in the Northern Cape Province. Earlier this year, a young lesbian was murdered in Magojaneng village; her body was also mutilated, her genitalia cut out and a bottle inserted into her body. Although South Africa’s constitution provides the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, incidents of violence and attacks against LGBTI persons in the country continue to rise.
“The State has an obligation to protect the rights of all its citizens including LGBTI persons. This obligation goes beyond merely providing protection from discrimination in legal texts, the state has a duty to promote a culture of respect of human rights through public education and awareness campaigns, by taking decisive action against non-state actors and institutions that promote intolerance and discrimination, by promptly investigating and bringing to justice perpetrators of hate crime and human rights violations, and by proactively taking steps to protect the rights of minority groups, including sexual minorities” said Joel Nana, AMSHeR’s Executive Director.
According to Shaine Griqua, Director of LEGBO Northern Cape, “Hate crimes are increasingly common in the Northern Cape and the police are poorly trained to deal with incidents of violence against gays and lesbians. The police do not know what hate crimes are and this leads to cases being poorly investigated or not investigated at all.”
AMSHeR uses the occasion of the celebration of South Africa’s Youth Day [16 June] to draw attention to the plight of young South Africans who daily face violence and discrimination in their communities, at schools and places of employment on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Kene C. Esom, AMSHeR’s Policy Coordinator: Law and Human Rights, “It is sad that today, Youth Day, which commemorates the series of youth-led protests against the oppressive apartheid government, a victim of a different kind of oppression, which is gaining ground in South Africa, is being laid to rest. The Government of South Africa must respect its obligations under the South African Constitution and other international human rights instruments by guaranteeing the rights of everyone within its territory to freedom from discrimination, including on the basis of sex, gender and sexual orientation.”
AMSHeR joins LEGBO and other organisations to call for an end to hate crime and violence against LGBTI persons, and to demand that Thapelo Makutle’s killers are brought to justice.
Thapelo Makutle was a popular LGBTI activist in the Northern Cape. Witnesses stated that Thapelo had been involved in an argument with two men on the eve of his murder at a local tavern. The men had allegedly been questioning him about his sexuality and his appearance and demanded to know if he was gay or transgender. It is believed that the men may have followed him to his house and murdered him.
Last year, the murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza was highly publicized. She was gang-raped, stabbed and stoned death. Incidents of the so-called curative rape of lesbians are notorious across South Africa. Between 2011 and early 2012, a suspected serial killer targeted and killed about seven gay men in Gauteng Province.
News of the Thapelo’s murder has once again steered fear and panic among the LGBTI community particularly in the Northern Cape where members of the community fear leaving their homes for concern about their security. Members of the LGBTI community in Kuruman have decried the lack of visible policing and satellite police stations in rural areas where hate crimes against LGBTI persons are common.
Thapelo Makutle will be laid to rest on Saturday 16 June 2012. A funeral service will be held at the Bendelle Village Anglican Church at 7am.
For further enquiries contact the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights:
Kene C. Esom, Policy Coordinator: Law and Human Rights
+2711 482 4630 or firstname.lastname@example.org