Rape is rape no matter who the victim is

Protestors met outside the Wynberg Magistrate Courthouse on the 7th June, 2012 where the case of Ntsiki Tyatyeka, of Nyanga, was convened. Tyatyeka, who openly identified as a lesbian, disappeared on 6 September, 2010 and was last seen walking into the home of a neighbour. To the horror of her friends and family, Tyatyeka’s remains were later found in a dust bin at the neighbour’s residence. The police took the owner of the home into custody and charged him with the murder of Tyatyeka, though he denied having any knowledge of her whereabouts.

Although there is no direct evidence that the murder of Tyatyeka was a “hate crime”, it nevertheless highlights the importance of protecting the constitutional rights of sexual minorities in South Africa, who are increasingly becoming the victims of violent crimes, including rape and murder. Protestors from Sonke Gender Justice as well as Free Gender staged a protest to bring attention to these recent injustices, and the current effort by Chief Phathekile Holomisa and the National House of Traditional Leaders to revoke the protection that the Constitution grants to homosexual citizens. Holomisa and the NHTL have attempted to remove the criteria of sexual orientation from the Equality clause (Section 9) of the Bill of Rights, which defends LGBTI individuals against discrimination. Holomisa has argued that “the ANC knows that the ‘great majority’ of South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.” In response, the chief whip of the ANC Mathole Motshekga issued a statement distancing the party from Holomisa’s views, further indicating that the ANC does not plan to take up the issue before Parliament.

Protestors toyi-toying for awareness of these threats to LGBTI rights rallied at the courthouse’s steps, holding signs that bore messages such as “Rape is Rape no matter who the victim is,” “Gay & Lesbian Rights are Human Rights,” and “We Demand for Ntsiki Justice Now.” Undeterred by strong winds and pouring rain, they handed out pamphlets that demanded equality and condemned gender violence to those that passed by. Meanwhile, Tyatyeka’s case was heard inside the courthouse. However, the case was postponed when the legal aid for the defense did not appear in court due to illness. The trial is scheduled to proceed on 11th June, 2012.

by David Friedman and Rachel Fleder