Thousands of LGBT people have marked Nelson Mandela's birthday with protests across South Africa against rising levels of hate crimes and government inaction
As South Africans celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday the country’s LGBT communities call upon their leaders to take firm action against the rising tide of hate crimes.
Thousands of LGBT people protested throughout South Africa against their leaders’ silence and even complicity with the increasing hate based violence and crimes against lesbian, gay and transgender people.
The protests are organised by a coalition of LGBT groups and civil society organizations.
Since 2009 South Africans have used 18 July to celebrate the legacy of Mandela’s 67 years of political service. LGBT activists symobolically held a 67 minute protest to remind South Africa that his legacy was service to all, including all sexualities and identities
Activists also called upon the country’s African National Congress leadership to follow in the example of Nelson Mandela by taking a stand against the hatred and violence.
Protesters demanded action against Chief Patekile Holomisa, who serves as chair of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), and recently made homophobic remarks and called to remove the constitutional provision protecting individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The incitement by Chief Holomisa and the CRC has been, in part, blamed for the recent rapid increase in hate crimes across South Africa.
These included five confirmed murders during the last two months alone:
There are currently five other cases of suspected homophobic murders that are now being investigated.
Many more LGBT people are victims of daily abuse, violence and murder attempts.
LGBT asylum seekers to South Africa also report they no longer feel safe as they are targeted by rising amounts of xenophobia and hate crimes.
The escalating rate of anti LGBT hate crimes has been recently highlighted by a report published by The South African National AIDS Council which called for urgent action, rather than complicit silence, on the part of the South African government.
Protesters handed a memorandum to the African National Congress demanding action against the homophobic incitement and increasing violence.
Gay Star News spoke with LGBT activist Junior Mayema from Cape Town who was the victim of an attempted homophobic murder last Friday (13 July). Mayema went was chatted up by a man in a bar who invited him back to his place.
The invitation turned out to be a trap, the man had two friends of his follow them and all of them suddenly drew knives and verbally attacked him, calling him a ‘moffie’ (fag in Afrikans).
He escaped when someone screamed at them to stop: ‘They almost managed to stab me, but I managed to get away with a cut on my head. They took my bag and my phone… It was so sad but I am still alive.
‘The violence in South Africa is rampant and not being investigated, LGBT people are being killed weekly without any police action. There are no attempts by the government to eradicate the violence and murders.
‘Many LGBT people are losing their lives with traps set to them like the one I fell for.
‘Here in Cape Town there are so many violent gangs which due to joblessness and unemployment turn to drug abuse, gender-based and homophobic violence, with no respect for human life.
‘The majority of Cape Town police personnel come from townships where homophobia is rife on a daily basis, so they either feel helpless or simply don’t care about this sort of violence.
‘This is why I and many others support the protests, this violence is incited by the tribal leaders and the government and police sit in silence. It has to stop.’