Protest about the rape and murder of Noxolo Nogwaza in South Africa

Hundreds of LGBTI activists marched on the KwaThema police station on 19 August to protest against police inaction on “corrective rape” in the township. The march was organised by the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC). It has been three months since the rape and murder of lesbian activist Noxolo Nogwaza and the case has not progressed. The marchers sang “Noxolo is not sleeping” and demanded action.

Lindi Masindwa, deputy chairwoman of the ANC Women’s League in Ekurhuleni said: “It’s been three months since Noxolo was brutally murdered but we have seen no progress. We want the police to speed up the investigations.” Masindwa is also a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee, which organised last Friday’s protest.

The group presented a memorandum to Ekurhuleni metro police department chief Hlula Msimang, calling for an end to homophobia in the police service and for a greater commitment to investigating hate crimes against gays and lesbians.

Nogwaza’s cousin, Nonyaniso Nogwaza, said the family had made several attempts to get an update from the police but were repeatedly told that “the case is still under investigation”. “The only way to bring peace to our hearts is if the police find the ­people who killed Noxolo and bring them to justice,” Nogwaza said.

It is not the first time gay rights activists have marched to the KwaThema police station. In 2009 the murder of another lesbian, Girly Nkosi, sparked similar outrage, but the perpetrators have still not been found. “We don’t want [Noxolo’s] case to go up in smoke like Girly’s,” said Masindwa.

The Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee has given the KwaThema police and the provincial commissioner of the SAPS, General Mzwandile Petros, 30 days to answer the demands in their memorandum. An escalation of protest is planned in 30 days if police do not respond to the demands in the memorandum. If no one responded, the committee said, its members would march to Petros’s Johannesburg office.

“We will continue living in fear unless the criminals are brought to justice,” said protester Leonard Nkosi.

Noxolo Nogwaza was found raped and murdered in an alley in KwaThema township on Easter Sunday morning. Noxolo was a member of Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC). The violent murders of lesbians Eudy Simelani and Girly “Sgelane” Nkosi and hate crimes towards LGBTIs in general prompted the formation of EPOC in July 2009.

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