Stamp out hate crimes
ON DECEMBER 10, 1996, in Sharpeville, Nelson Mandela signed the final draft of South Africa’s landmark constitution into law. Apart from guaranteeing rights and setting out duties, it outlaws all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
It is said that ours is one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, yet in practice, it offers little protection unless its provisions are actually enforced by authorities.
While South Africa is the only African country that recognises gay rights and allows same-sex marriage, hate crimes against people based on their sexual orientation continue unabated. Campaigners have warned that sexual attacks against lesbians are continuing to increase.
Cases of corrective rape – a hate crime in which men rape lesbians in what they see as an attempt to “correct” their sexual orientation – continue to scorch our landscape.
The practice of “corrective rape” shocked the world in 2008 when Eudy Simelane, a former South African international women’s footballer, was gang-raped, beaten and stabbed 25 times in Ekurhuleni. One of the four alleged attackers pleaded guilty to rape and murder and was sentenced to 32 years in jail. Another pleaded not guilty, but was convicted and given a life sentence.
It is apt that another homophobe was given a lengthy sentence on Tuesday – the start of the annual 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
Lekgoa Motleleng was handed an effective 30year jail term for the horrific rape and murder of Duduzile Zozo, a young lesbian. Her body was found with a toilet brush shoved in her genitals.
Many lesbians have died in such homophobic attacks which Amnesty International has cautioned are on the rise. For instance, between June and November 2012 at least seven people were killed in what appears to have been targeted violence related to their sexual orientation.
While this problem exists, we appeal to the courts to mete out harsh sentences upon those guilty of these barbaric crimes.