The past couple of months I blogged about almost seven murders of LGBTI people, and again I find myself writing about yet another murder of a young lesbian woman in Cape Town. On the morning of the 10 th November 2012 I received a call from Ndumie Funda the founder and Director of Lulekisizwe, a project that nurses, supports and feeds the lesbian bisexual and trans women (LBT) in townships who are victims and survivors of “corrective rape”. I had just seen her the day before and we had talked about the current situation facing the LGBTI community in Cape Town, especially in the townships. Funda sounded stressed and in shock over the phone when she asked me to get the word out about the murder of Sihle Skotshi (19) who was an active member of Lulekisizwe.
Later I met up with Funda and had an opportunity to interview the two survivors of the attack who were with Sihle when she died.
The attack and murder of the aforementioned victims happened on the 09 November 2012 at around 11pm in Cosovo, an informal settlement in Phillipi, Cape Town. The three young women were drinking at a nearby tavern when they ran out of money for alcohol. Sihle (the woman who died) asked one of her friends to lend her R50 so they can buy more alcohol, the friend agreed, but they had to go and get the money from the friend’s house who resides not far from the tavern where they were drinking. The three women left, leaving another friend who had also been a victim of “corrective rape” just a month ago. (She had however not reported the rape, nor gone for a medical checkup of Sexual Transmitted Diseases and pregnancy due to the fear of the perpetrators receiving bail and going after her.)
On their way to fetch the money they passed a male they knew, who greeted them. On their way back to the tavern, they were confronted by five or more males who were swearing at them and said “Ayo ndawo yenu le, yindawo yamaVura”-(this is not your place, it is amavura’s place) (Amavura is the gang that is known and feared in the area). In the midst of the attack one of the gang members pulled out a mini spear and stabbed Sihle in the chest. One of Sihle’s friends attempted to intervene and she too got stabbed in left arm. This happened whilst the other friend ran to tell the one who had remained in the tavern and to try and get a car that will take Sihle to hospital.
Sihle passed away in hospital and according to the friend who was with Sihle before she took her last breath, Sihle uttered her last words saying “Please apologize for me to my mother, and I love you all”.
The survivors were teary throughout the interview. I could see they were shaken by what they had witnessed. Who wouldn’t be? I mean seeing your friend die in front of you is not a joke and the thought that you might be wanted by the perpetrators is enough to scare anyone. I was shaken, just listening to them telling the story, and what is even worse is the fact they have to go back to the same township where the attack took place. They live by themselves and they are targets of homophobia as they are constantly victimized and called names. Listening and seeing the fear that these young women go through really broke my heart. The fact that after so many years, despite homosexuality having been decriminalised by the government and is recognized as a constitutional right, homosexuals are still being murdered and raped is just fucked up.
While I was posting the news on the social networks I already knew the kind of comments I would be getting. “What have we done to deserve this?” “These bustards, why are they killing us?” “Something needs to be done, this getting out of hand.” Blah blah blah…
Fact is, “we” never really do anything about it, unless it is protesting and yapping on social networks about these crimes. Maybe we should look at ourselves first, activists do their bit but, what about the rest of the homosexual community? Think about it if we stood together in the fight for our rights maybe, just maybe we could be heard and taken seriously. Or maybe we should start by educating each other about safety measures? These young lesbians need our help and we can do that by guiding, nurturing and teaching them how to protect themselves.
So my plea to you guys is let us support each other in whatever struggles to fight for our freedom, after all activists are not fighting for themselves alone but for the whole homosexual community at large. The least we can do is to support and help them. So next time you see my facebook updates with invites to marches, workshops and research studies, please take part. You are not only helping me but also yourselves because the findings could take us one step closer to our freedom. The cliché that division of labor gets the job done quicker was not created just for the fun of it, it does work. So think about it if we help each other in our fight for freedom as homosexuals we might just get it sooner than we think.
Sihle was a friendly young woman to those who knew her; she was a soccer player and had recently matriculated. She was working and saving money to study further. Another young lesbian has been murdered. If we don’t do anything about these murders, we might as well look forward to WHO IS NEXT?!