Sonke Gender Justice Network condemns the murder of Noxolo Nogwaza who was raped and brutally murdered in the early hours of Sunday morning over the Easter weekend in Kwa-Thema township, outside of Johannesburg. We offer our condolences to Noxolo’s family and to our comrades at EPOC and to the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL).
Like the murders of Eudy Simelane, Zoliswa Nkonyana, Sizakele Sigasa, the murder of Noxolo Nogwaza appears to have been motivated by homophobia. Nogwaza was an activist with the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC). She was also killed in a manner similar to Eudy Simelane, at the time also a member of EPOC and of South Africa’s national women’s soccer team, who was also killed in Kwa-Thema.
The brutal murder of Noxolo was not an ordinary crime – it was motivated by hatred and prejudice. The discrimination that LGBTI persons experience because of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation manifests in violence that sends the messages that they are not tolerated or welcome. Sonke urges government to move swiftly in promulgating a new ‘Hate Crimes Bill’ to ensure that brutal crimes such as these are classified as hate crimes. In the interim, Sonke calls upon the National Prosecuting Authority to treat hate crimes as an aggravating circumstance to oppose bail and to enhance sentencing, and urge the Parole Board to consider them an aggravating factor in considering parole applications.
We join EPOC and CAL in calling on the Tsakane Police Station, where the case has been reported, to carry out a quick and thorough investigation into the murder of Nogwaza and deal with the perpetrators accordingly.
In our day to day work with men to challenge patriarchy, end domestic and sexual violence and promote gender equality, we frequently still encounter deep and virulent homophobia amongst far too many of the men we work with. To address this, Sonke calls on government to begin consultations aimed at developing legal, mass media and community education strategies to challenge homophobia and promote the full human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and intersex people.
We call on all South Africans to speak out against homophobia and work to strengthen our fragile human rights culture. We also challenge institutions of religion and culture to play an active role in these efforts as homophobic and patriarchal views and actions are often perpetrated in the name of culture and religion. Sonke commits itself to supporting such efforts.
Reverend Desmond Lesejane, Sonke Deputy Director: 084 5816306
Mbuyiselo Botha, Sonke Government and Media Liaison: 082 5181177