South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: November 2023

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 November 2023.

Teachers accused of “gross misconduct” in “preventable” suicide

An official report on the tragic October suicide of 12-year-old learner Sibusiso Mbatha revealed evidence of homophobic abuse by the deputy principal at his school. The investigation, initiated by the Gauteng Department of Education, found substantial evidence supporting allegations of abuse and negligence by educators at Khehlekile Primary School in Thokoza. Possible charges for gross misconduct were recommended. The report emphasised the need for proactive measures to prevent such incidents, including informing the School Governing Body promptly, enhancing governance and scholar management skills through training, and implementing anti-bullying and anti-homophobia policies.

Grindr Gang victim’s five-day ordeal

A 22-year-old man in Johannesburg, kidnapped by individuals associated with the “Grindr Gang,” was released after a traumatic five-day ordeal. The victim, lured through the dating app, was held captive, and the criminals demanded a R50,000 ransom, sending disturbing videos of him being assaulted to his family. Activists pressed for police action, and the victim’s release was eventually secured. However, dissatisfaction with the police response and concerns about potential police involvement with the criminals were voiced.

Grindr Gang accused denied bail in student attack case

The Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court denied bail to the seven men accused of kidnapping, severely beating, and extorting an 18-year-old Johannesburg student targeted through the Grindr dating app in September. Facing charges of kidnapping, attempted murder, and extortion, the accused were denied bail due to concerns about potential danger to the LGBTQ+ community and state witnesses. The court noted threats against the victim’s family and feared that releasing the accused would undermine justice. The matter will return to court in January.

Gauteng teen endures “corrective rape” horror

In a disturbing incident near Vanderbijlpark, a 15-year-old lesbian girl fell victim to a “corrective rape” hate crime on November 4. The attacker allegedly sought to “change” the victim’s sexual orientation and tore off her rainbow arm bracelet in an expression of hatred towards LGBTQI+ individuals. Despite reporting the case to Boipatong Police Station, the suspect, a man in his late 20s, remained at large at the time of writing the report. The victim, who completed her school exams after the traumatic incident, is receiving counselling. Concerns were raised about the police response, with allegations of a fear-inducing interrogation of the victim.

Equality Court refused to rule on LGBTIQ+ asylum discrimination

Activists expressed disappointment over the Equality Court’s refusal to address blatant discrimination against LGBTIQ+ asylum seeker Anold Mulaisho by the South African Department of Home Affairs. Mulaisho, a Zambian who sought asylum due to discrimination based on his sexual orientation, had his 2018 asylum application dismissed by a Home Affairs official who deemed it fraudulent and refused to accept that he is gay. Despite evidence that the decision was discriminatory and violated constitutional and legal provisions, the Equality Court in Pretoria dismissed the case, stating that internal Home Affairs appeal processes had not been exhausted. Activists stressed that the case highlights broader issues of discrimination in asylum decisions related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Report: Gauteng trans man harassed and assaulted by Metro police

In early November, a parent reported a distressing incident to OUT LGBT Well-being involving their teenage transgender son and his boyfriend. They were stopped by Metro police in Fourways while in an Uber when returning home from a party. The officers demanded to see ‘the firearms and drugs,’ despite there being none. The parent highlights that their son, who is legally male, did not have his ID with him. Doubting his gender identity, the officers allegedly taunted and insisted he was a woman, making inappropriate comments. A male officer then conducted an intimate body examination, still insisting on a false gender identity. The two victims were interrogated for around half an hour before being allowed to leave. The parent expressed the desire to lay charges of harassment and gender discrimination.

First queer law clinic recognised by Legal Practice Council

The legal unit of Access Chapter 2, an LGBTQI+ advocacy group in South Africa, made history by becoming the country’s first queer-led Law Clinic, officially recognised by the Legal Practice Council in Gauteng. The clinic aims to provide free, comprehensive, and compassionate legal services to the LGBTQI+ community and women. Access Chapter 2 said the recognition highlighted its commitment to justice and inclusivity.


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