SA LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: January 2023

OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system.Here is our summary for January 2023.

  • On 8 January, Rev Thembelani Nolingo, a minister in the Mdantsane South Circuit, near East London, told his congregants that people should be “suspicious” about individuals “increasingly becoming” a different gender. He said that “the current rate makes me conclude that Satan’s hand is working here among us”. Rev Nolingo added that the “high rate” of LGBTIQ+ people seems to happen “under the influence of alcohol and drugs”. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa apologised to the LGBTIQ+ community for the preacher’s queerphobic statements. The pastor also issued a personal apology for his “hurtful and discriminatory comments,” promising to in future only “preach and spread Christ’s love, hope and healing for everyone”.
  • Thabiso Motaung, a 19-year-old member of the LGBTIQ+ community in Cape Town, was filmed being stripped naked and beaten by three young women in Khayelitsha. The humiliating clip was shared on social media and shows a terrified Motaung attempting to flee from her attackers who surround and hit her, while laughter can be heard in the background. It’s also been alleged that the women sexually abused Motaung and took photos of her genitals. Motaung opened a case with the police and the three suspects were arrested soon after.
  • On 16 January, South African poet, artist and social media commentator Ntsiki Mazwai told her more than 370,000 followers that transgender women are not women. She also repeated the unfounded view that women’s rights are threatened by trans rights. “Find another term to call yourselves…. transgender women is not gonna work for us… you’re men,” Mazwai said. She also stated: “It’s true… I don’t [see trans women as women]… I see them as men who have transitioned…” Mazwai later deleted her original tweet, but not her subsequent ones in which she continued to defend her position. Not only were those tweets damaging, but so were the hundreds of hateful comments from queerphobic Twitter users that they generated, for which Mazwai took no responsibility.
  • Hendrik, a gay Johannesburg man, wrote about his experience of becoming a victim of the so-called Grindr Gang. These criminals have been targeting queer men through dating apps for several years, seemingly without consequence. Hendrik explained how he was lured to a house to meet another man, only to find himself threatened with stabbing, stripped naked and tied up by four men. They demanded access to his banking app, through which they stole R13,000. He was held for four hours until the men vacated the rented house, leaving Hendrik to free himself. The fact that these attacks seem to be on the increase indicates that the police are either unwilling or powerless to stop the crisis. OUT is compiling as many cases as possible to pressure the authorities to take action. If you were a victim of the Grindr Gang, please email (your details will not be passed on to anyone without your permission).
  • The third edition of the Gauteng State of Health report was released in January and revealed that many gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), as well as people who use drugs, sex workers, and trans people, continue to face discrimination in public health care facilities in the province. The study revealed that 33% of gay and bisexual men and 38% of trans people blamed hostile staff for why they had stopped going to a clinic, as well as a lack of privacy. Of the GBMSM interviewed, 9% said they’d been refused access to health services because of their sexuality. The study highlighted the value of providing targeted health services for key populations and the urgent need to sensitise and train public health staff on serving LGBTIQ+ people with dignity and respect.
  • There was a new report of another LGBTIQ+ learner allegedly sent home for not wearing her school’s “correct” gendered uniform, this time in North West. The principal of the Marubising Secondary School, near the town of Taung, is alleged to have discriminated against a 15-year-old lesbian-identifying pupil. The girl’s father claims that on 18 January, his daughter was “chased out” of school because of her gender expression. The parent also alleged that the principal said that he “only welcomes female and male learners at his school, not ditrase [an anti-queer slur].” The North West Department of Education denied claims that the pupil was sent home, only that a parent was phoned because she was not wearing the “correct” girl’s uniform. It further stated the school wasn’t aware that the girl identified as lesbian, and thus could not have discriminated against her.
  • Activists and family members were appalled when the man accused of stabbing 24-year-old openly lesbian Phelokazi Mqathanya to death was found not guilty by the Khayelitsha Magistrates Court on 27 January due to lack of evidence. Mqathanya, who lived in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, was murdered on 2 May 2021 in what her relatives believe was a hate crime. The young woman, who was described as a “go-getter”, had just finished a chef course. The ruling followed a shambolic case which saw the matter being postponed by the court 15 times since May 2022. Activists and family members say justice was not done and have blamed shoddy work by police investigators for the freeing of the accused, Bongani Ngadleka.


  • 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. This will help researchers better understand the problem.
    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.
  • If you’d like free support and legal advice, please email OUT on