Although police recently arrested four suspects in connection with a series of attacks against LGBTIQ+ individuals using dating apps like Grindr, OUT LGBT Well-being has continued to receive reports of new incidents.
Over the past few years, numerous members of the LGBTIQ+ community, predominantly gay, bisexual and other queer men, have been entrapped by criminals through the use of dating apps. Once the victims arrive at the arranged “date”, they are typically restrained by several men, often beaten, threatened, and forced to transfer the contents of their bank accounts to their assailants or to ask family members to pay the criminals for their release.
After a social media campaign calling for victims to come forward, OUT LGBT Well-being has over the past month received 13 reports of attacks by the so-called “Grindr Gang”.
All these incidents happened in areas of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, including Sandton, Randburg, Fourways, Tembisa, Soweto and Lenasia. The incidents took place between June 2022 and February 2023.
Alarmingly, three of the reported cases happened in the last few weeks – after the arrest of the four suspects earlier in February. It is thus clear that the “Grindr Gang” is in fact more than one group of criminals.
“OUT urges members of the LGBTIQ+ community, particularly gay, bisexual and queer men, to continue to use dating apps with caution as we can confirm that these groups are still out there and actively preying on new victims,” says Lerato Phalakatshela, the Human Rights Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being. “What we have also noticed,” he adds, “is that some of the victims were targeted on other platforms and apps in addition to Grindr, such as Tinder and Ads Africa.”
OUT is assisting the victims with legal advice, case monitoring and psychosocial support and referrals. We are also working with CAP, a private security company that has been closely monitoring these incidents. CAP is using the information from reported cases to assist the police in identifying suspects.
In an alarming twist to these incidents, we have received a report of a victim allegedly being harassed for money by police officers from the station at which he reported his attack. This is a clear instance of secondary victimisation of an already traumatised individual.
Any victim facing this kind of behaviour from the police should contact the Station Commander immediately to report it. They can also escalate the matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID): 0800 111 969 / 012 399 0000 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
LGBTIQ+ victims of recent and older dating app attacks are urged to continue to confidentially report these incidents to OUT by emailing email@example.com. We will not only provide them with support, but these reports will help establish more details about these crimes and how to stamp them out.