SA LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: August 2022

OUT LGBT Well-being in collaboration with MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of violations of the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in South Africa. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for August 2022.

  • South African poet and artist Ntsiki Mazwai caused a firestorm on social media in early August when she tweeted to her more than 360,000 followers: “Being a gay man does not qualify you to be a woman…. Youre a gay man…… That’s that. Please stop trying to erase us.” The post generated dozens of homophobic and transphobic comments in support of Mazwai’s views, with some applauding the poet for being “brave” enough to echo their sentiments. Many repeated the narrative that gay men are trying to be or “impersonate” women, asserted that gender is binary and immutable, and rejected the validity of transgender identities. Despite the vile homophobia and transphobia emanating from her post, Mazwai hunkered down on her own queerphobic views and continued to make offensive anti-LGBTIQ+ comments.
  • Hoërskool Rustenburg in North West punished matric student Desiré Duvenage by stripping her of some of her school honours after teachers saw a video of her celebrating her 18th birthday at a drag show. Accused of “immorality”, she was removed from the school’s Land Service (an environmental youth organisation) management team and her role as the chairperson. Following widespread criticism in the media, both the school and Land Service apologised, claiming miscommunication and procedural errors, and reinstated Duvenage and reversed any penalties against her.
  • Details surrounding the circumstances of the death of 24-year-old transgender woman Athule Mahlathini in the early hours of 7 August in the township of Motherwell, Gqeberha remain unclear. According to reports, Mahlathini was with her boyfriend in his shack when the man’s cousin, who also lived in the shack, arrived home. It’s claimed that the cousin was furious that his family member was “sleeping with a man in my house” and attacked Mahlathini. It’s alleged that after beating her unconscious, he poured paraffin over her and set her and the shack alight. A suspect has been arrested and was set to appear in court this week.
  • On Tuesday 16 August, 15-year-old Soweto gay teen Tiro Moalusi was mocked by a student teacher as a “sissy boy” in front of his PJ Simelane Secondary School classmates. That afternoon, the devastated Tiro went to his aunt’s home where he tearfully told her that he could not live if he was going to be ridiculed for his sexuality for the rest of his life. A short time later, he took his own life by ingesting poison. The teacher has since been suspended and both the Gauteng Department of Education and the South African Council for Educators have launched investigations into the matter. In response, more than 24 civil society groups signed an open letter to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, demanding that she take action to ensure that schools are safe spaces for queer youth. OUT offered counselling support to the family and assisted with the costs of Tiro’s funeral.
  • The five-year-long case of the 2017 kidnapping and gang rape of a young gay man in Ceres in the Western Cape finally concluded with the sentencing of the three guilty criminals. Rodney Beukes and Peter John Adams each received 20-year sentences while a third individual – who was a minor at the time of the crime – was controversially only sentenced to 10 years in jail by the Worcester Magistrates Court. The survivor expressed his relief at receiving some measure of justice and closure.
  • In the latest development in the Steve Hofmeyr hate speech case, the singer has submitted a preliminary affidavit in response to the SA Human Rights Commission’s (SAHRC’s) demand that he apologises and pays R500,000 to an LGBTIQ+ group. Hofmeyr is challenging the SAHRC’s actions on technical grounds, arguing that the SAHRC’s Equality Court case against him was lodged in a court that does not have jurisdiction and that the commission did not follow the correct process before going to court. Hofmeyr is in trouble over his March social media statements that the LGBTIQ+ acronym includes the acceptance of bestiality and that the LGBTIQ+ community is in support of “grooming” children. OUT will continue to follow-up on the matter.

    If you’ve experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ rights discrimination in South Africa, you can now report it anonymously on your phone at no cost.

    • Simply dial *134*382*5# and follow the instructions. If you wish, you can request to be called back for support.

     NB: South African phone companies have a pre-set time limit. After 120 seconds you will lose connection. However, if you redial *134*382*5# you can start where you left off.