Lulama Mvandaba murdered in Khayelitsha because she was a lesbian, says family

Lulama Mvandaba’s body was discovered on Friday after she was allegedly assaulted on June 5.

Lulama Mvandaba’s body was discovered on Friday after she was allegedly assaulted on June 5.

Published Jun 14, 2021


Cape Town - A black lesbian, living in Khayelitsha, was killed in a suspected homophobic attack after her body was discovered on Friday inside her home at a newly-established informal settlement.

The family of Lulama Mvandaba said they believed she was targeted because of her sexuality. Mvelisi Mvandaba said their elder sister’s death came five months to the day after their mother’s death.

“We ask for privacy at this point and will issue a statement about her death once we have had time to grieve, as, unfortunately, she was murdered due to her sexuality and as a member of the LGBTQI+ community.

“To those who knew her vivacious energy and warmth, we extend our heartfelt condolences to you all.

“We are extremely shocked and traumatised as a family and can only imagine how all the kids she touched during her career will be feeling,” he said.

Mvandaba’s death comes after the murder of several gay and lesbian people across the Western Cape.

Liyabona Mabishi, 16, from Nkanini, Khayelitsha was brutally murdered in March on Human Rights day by five men for allegedly being lesbian.

In April the body of Lonwabo Jack, a 22-year-old gay man was found in Mau Mau, Nyanga with stab wounds to the chest after he had gone out with friends for his birthday party the previous day. He was allegedly raped before he was stabbed.

Phelokazi Ndlwana, 24, was stabbed and killed in Khayelitsha last month because she lived openly as a lesbian.

A 27-year-old unnamed lesbian was attacked by a group of men in Strand on Saturday night while walking home. She asked to not be named.

Ward councillor Xolisa Ngwekazi said this was the second murder in the area this month. Ngwekazi said according to the reports he has received, Mvandaba was assaulted on June 5 by three men, and her body was only discovered on Friday in her house.

“She was discovered by her neighbours after they broke down the door. However, when the police arrived, they said her death was of natural cause, but it was only discovered by the undertaker later that she had bled, had bruises and swollen breasts with burn wounds that possibly indicated that she could have been assaulted with a burning object,” said Ngwekazi.

Harare Community Policing Forum chairperson Funeka Soldaat said she was made aware that no forensic pathologists were called when the police responded to the scene.

“Young women are dying so unnecessarily and it’s becoming scary. This has brought fear in the community, as we do not know who might be next. Our townships are under siege, and this brings the questionable crime-fighting deployment of resources in our areas. It has become easy for anyone to take someone life and especially women, but the hatred that other men have against lesbians is worrying,” said Soldaat.

QueerLivesMatter movement representative Kamva Gwana said the realities faced by black queer people in the country had not received any meaningful attention from the government.

“Part of our demands listed in our memorandum to the Speaker of Parliament in April is to call out politicians, the government and the SAPS to firstly condemn these attacks.

“We are calling on Parliament to hold an urgent debate centring on hate crimes and the realities of the LGBTQI+ community at large, and the SAPS and Department of Justice to sensitise itself in dealing with crimes inflicted against queer bodies.

“We find that many of our members do not come forward to report crimes, because they fear the institutionalised homophobia and judgement they face at the SAPS and others,” said Gwana.

Gwana said society has done little meaningfully to integrate the LGBTQI+ community. He said to be a queer in South Africa was to a life of constant constraint and minimisation of one’s being.

Police could not confirm the incident by time of going to press.