South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: March 2024

OUT LGBT Well-being and MambaOnline publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa, including hate speech. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for March 2024.

A Step Towards Justice: Sam Mbatha Killers Found Guilty

After nearly three years of delays, three men were found guilty of the murder of LGBTIQ+ marketing professional Sam Mbatha. The High Court convicted Arthur Khoza (19), Mahlatsi Nkuna (21), and Thato Mosetla (22) of murder, kidnapping, robbery, and other charges related to Mbatha’s death. His body was discovered in the boot of his burnt car in June 2021, leading to a lengthy investigation. The verdict, though a relief to Mbatha’s family, has prompted further sentencing postponements until July 2024. Family spokesperson Kgomotso Sepeng expressed satisfaction with the direction of justice. Access Chapter 2 (AC2), a monitoring organisation, welcomed the verdict as a significant advancement in LGBTIQ+ rights, emphasising the importance of the legal victory in promoting equality and justice.

Pietermaritzburg Auto Shop Denies Photo of Shocking Anti-LGBTQ+ Sign

The owner of a Pietermaritzburg car parts shop denied allegations of displaying an offensive queerphobic sign refusing service to LGBTQ+ people. The sign, which also included graphics of rainbow flags being burned and crossed out and a statement opposing “the LGBTQ agenda”, was photographed by a staff member of Uthingo Network, an LGBTIQ+ rights group. Despite conflicting responses from the shop, with one person asserting the store’s right to refuse entry with another later denying the sign’s existence, the Uthingo Network said it planned to file a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission. This incident is reminiscent of similar recent discriminatory signs in other South African stores, highlighting the ongoing battle for equality, dignity inclusivity in the country.

Cape Town, North West and Free State Celebrated LGBTIQ+ Pride

Members of the LGBTIQ+ community in the Western Cape, Free State, and North West celebrated their sexual and gender identities with the Free State Pride, Mahikeng Pride, and Cape Town Pride events in March. Cape Town’s annual parade saw thousands marching through the city, led by Mr and Miss Cape Town Pride, bikers, and roller skaters. Post-parade festivities at the Green Point A Track Mardi Gras included speeches, music performances, and food stalls. Free State Pride, held in Bloemfontein, aimed to honour those affected by hate crimes while celebrating diversity, featuring education sessions and entertainment. Mahikeng Pride provided a platform for visibility and advocacy, featuring a march, picnic, community fair, and cultural performances, with a focus on fostering inclusivity and social change. Despite legal progress, discrimination, violence, and stigma persist within the LGBTIQ+ community. Pride events serve as powerful reminders of these ongoing struggles while providing avenues for individuals to celebrate diversity, honour LGBTIQ+ history, and push for continued progress towards equality and acceptance in society.

LGBTQIA+ South Africans Face “Indignities and Abuse” in Public Health System

A survey of nearly 14,000 individuals revealed a crisis in South Africa’s public health system, particularly affecting drug users, sex workers, and LGBTQIA+ community members. Launched by the Ritshidze community-led monitoring project, the report exposed widespread indignities and abuse experienced by these marginalised groups when accessing healthcare services. Findings indicate that many face disrespectful treatment from clinical staff and security guards, with instances of denial of services, confidentiality breaches, and gender identity discrimination. While NGO-run services offer better support, there is a dire need for more sensitised public health facilities and accountability for mistreatment. Recommendations include expanding specialised services, ensuring gender-affirming care, and increasing access to harm reduction services, underscoring the urgent need for drastic improvements in the public healthcare system to uphold dignity and protect the health and lives of these populations.

South Africans Protest and Call for Action against Ghana’s Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill

South Africans protested outside the Ghana High Commission in Pretoria on March 6th, urging President Nana Akufo-Addo to reject the recently passed Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill. Activists from groups like the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Gender Dynamix delivered a memorandum, condemning the bill as a violation of human rights, press freedom, and democracy. They highlighted concerns about the bill’s impact on LGBTQ+ Ghanaians, emphasising the need for Ghana to uphold equality and non-discrimination. The bill, passed by Ghana’s Parliament on 28 February 2024, could lead to imprisonment for LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies. In a separate initiative, over 20 LGBTIQ+ organisations in South Africa, led by OUT LGBT Well-being, issued a joint statement condemning the bill and called on the South African government to denounce the legislation, urging for solidarity with LGBTQ+ Ghanaians and a firm stance against human rights violations in Africa.

  • If you need free support to uphold your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at
  • Have you experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ rights violation such as a hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ discrimination in South Africa? If you’d like to bring it to the attention of the LGBTIQ+ community, email
  • Did you know you can lodge a complaint of unfair discrimination or hate speech (at no cost and without a lawyer), in the Equality Courts, which are located across South Africa? For more information, read OUT’s guide to using the Equality Courts.