Activists in the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) sector are speaking out about the appalling delays and injustices in five ongoing hate crime cases.
The cases have been selected by the Love Not Hate national campaign to illustrate severe lapses in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to LGBTI people, ahead of protests to demand immediate action by the authorities.
The five cases being highlighted include shocking incidents of rape, torture and murder of LGBTI people as well as anti-LGBTI hate speech:
- The stabbing murder of 35-year-old openly gay music student Bobby Motlatla in Potchefstroom on 10 November 2015. (552 days of justice denied.)
- The torture and brutal killing of 23-year-old gay man David Olyne in Ceres on 22 March 2014. (1150 days of justice denied.)
- The stabbing to death of transwoman Phoebe Titus from Wolseley in broad daylight on 27 December 2015. (505 days of justice denied.)
- The mutilation, rape and murder of 21-year-old lesbian matric pupil Motshidisi Pascalina Melamu in Evaton on 18 December 2015. (514 days of justice denied.)
- The hate speech against the LGBTI community by Nhlanhla Buthelezi on behalf of the People’s Revolutionary Movement in KwaZulu-Natal in May 2016. (379 days of justice denied.)
“Not only is the criminal justice system failing these and other LGBTI victims of hate, but so too are the structures initiated by government to tackle this scourge,” says Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being and spokesperson for the Love Not Hate campaign.
“While we have worked with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development alongside its Task Team and Rapid Response Team for a number of years, we have now been forced to admit that these are not delivering what was expected.”
The National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-Based Violence against LGBTI Persons was announced in 2011, while the Rapid Response Team to monitor and fast track pending and reported LGBTI related cases was launched in 2014. LGBTI civil society groups now say that these units are not performing.
In the last year, of 26 cases submitted to the Task Team, just one has been successfully resolved. Of updates requested from the Rapid Response Team in September 2016 concerning 22 outstanding cases, responses to just six of the cases have been returned; and these responses can only be described as inadequate. Meetings of the teams are often delayed or do not take place, and there is still no functioning Rapid Response Team in Gauteng.
“We can no longer remain quiet about the injustices and incompetence being experienced by members of our community, one which remains beset by discrimination and violence,” says Phalakatshela.
He notes a recent report commissioned by Love Not Hate that found that 44% of surveyed LGBTI people said they had experienced discrimination in their everyday life. Alarmingly, 41% of those surveyed knew of someone who had been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
On the 30th of May, activists will picket in Hatfield in Pretoria demanding that the lives of LGBTI people be taken seriously. Members of the LGBTI community and their allies are urged to show their support by gathering at the offices of OUT LGBT Well-being (1081, Pretorius St, Hatfield) at 9am.
Other planned protests around the country include:
East London: 17 May 2017 at 92 Currie Street, Quigney, East London
Cape Town: 20 May 2017 at the Khumbulani Pride March (Starting at 10am at the Circle next to the police station on Vulindlela Street, Lwandle location, Strand)
Durban: 20 May 2017 – Anti-homophobia & transphobia beach walk from Ushaka from 10am.
Pietermaritzburg: 15 June 2017 (Further details to be confirmed).