South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: May 2024

OUT LGBT Well-being and 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 May 2024.

President Ramaphosa Signed Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill

In a historic move, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill into law on 9 May, marking nearly two decades of advocacy. This legislation makes hate crimes and hate speech jailable offences in South Africa, aiming to prevent such acts through effective enforcement and data recording.

The law targets crimes motivated by prejudice or intolerance, including those based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and religion. It also addresses hate speech, with specific exclusions for academic, artistic, and religious expressions made in good faith. OUT LGBT Well-being welcomed the law, hoping it will reduce hate crimes and ensure government support for its implementation.

Gay Man Stabbed in Horrific Dating App Attack

A 28-year-old gay man in Johannesburg, known as Bongani (not his real name), was lured via the Surge dating app to meet a man named Simpiwe, who arranged an Uber to an apartment in Doornfontein on 28 April. Upon arrival, Bongani was ambushed by Simpiwe and four others, beaten, robbed, and stabbed. They also filmed him naked, threatened his life, and tried to extort money from his contacts.

Bongani, traumatised and injured, managed to escape and sought medical help. He now suffers from physical and emotional scars. Unaware of the dangers of dating app attacks, Bongani reported the incident to the police. OUT LGBT Well-being condemned the exploitation of dating apps by criminals and urged the community to exercise caution when using these platforms.

Upington Transgender Woman Murdered in Suspected Hate Crime

The LGBTIQ+ community in the Northern Cape mourned the brutal murder of Jo-Ann Isaks, a 27-year-old transgender woman. She was found in a burning room on the night of Wednesday, 14 May in the Upington township of Paballelo. It is understood that a family member noticed the flames coming from Isaks’ room and went to investigate. While trying to extinguish the blaze, they found her lifeless body, which had already caught fire. It was discovered that she also had multiple stab wounds on the upper body.

Police are investigating the case as a murder. No arrests have been made, and the motive remains unclear. Local LGBTIQ+ leader Jenny Sambok highlighted the pervasive discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community in the area. At the same time, the D’Gayle Diamonds group condemned the murder, calling for a thorough investigation and considering it a possible hate crime motivated by prejudice against Isaks’ identity.

Khumbulani Pride Remembered Hate Crime Victims

Over 150 people marched through Gugulethu and Nyanga on 18 May to mark the 11th Khumbulani Pride, commemorating victims of hate crimes. The event honoured individuals such as Lonwabo Jack, a gay man believed to have been murdered in a hate crime in 2021, and Phelokazi Mqathanya, a lesbian woman stabbed to death in Khayelitsha the same year. Participants, including bereaved family members, expressed their grief and called for a world where individuals are not killed for their sexuality.

Organised by Free Gender and the Triangle Project, the march aimed to raise awareness of queer rights and remember victims of hate crimes. Marchers handed a memorandum to the Nyanga police, demanding updates on long-unsolved cases involving Noxolo Nkosana and Phumeza Nkolonzi.


  • If you need 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.