Khayelitsha lesbian stabbed to death in suspected hate crime
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Cape Town – The LGBTQ+ community has suffered another hate crime after Phelokazi Ndlwana was stabbed and killed in Khayelitsha.
Her murder came just a day after 22-year-old Lonwabo Jack, who was killed allegedly for being gay, was laid to rest in the area at the weekend.
The family and friends of 24-year-old Ndlwana believe she was attacked in Site C early on Sunday morning because she lived openly as a lesbian.
Police spokesperson Andrè Traut said a 39-year-old man was arrested on Monday morning in connection with Ndlwana’s murder.
“Khayelitsha police received a call to attend a crime scene that took place in Mzoxolo Street.
“On their arrival they were directed by the community to the body of a female who succumbed to death of what appeared to be stab wounds to the chest area.
“Police detectives followed up on leads that they received and later arrested a suspect who is currently in custody,” said Traut.
Ndlwana’s murder came just a few weeks after Jack’s lifeless body was discovered in a pool of blood with stab wounds in Mau-mau, Nyanga East.
It is believed he was raped and killed for being gay, and a 17-year-old was arrested for his killing.
According to Ndlwana’s cousin, Thembalakhe Balele, Ndlwana had been in a shebeen opposite her house.
“Phelokazi’s friends said she went outside as someone who was going to return back quickly but she took longer. They got worried and checked for her outside, and found her in a pool of blood. They saw the suspect walking away carrying a knife.
“I received their call around 1am and drove from Litha Park to there. Unfortunately she died at the scene. Her body was covered by police and when checked, she had a stab wound below her breast on the left side. I still can’t believe she is gone,” said Balele.
Balele said he grew up with Ndlwana and they always had a good relationship.
“She never started fights with people and was loved by many. We believe this must have been a hate crime and call for justice.”
The Congress Of South African Students’ (Cosas) acting provincial chairperson Zandile Matyeni said they were devastated by the untimely death of Ndlwana, their former provincial treasurer.
“Cosas learnt about the passing of Cde Phelokazi on Sunday evening. Phelokazi was elected together with the collective to serve in the 10th provincial executive committee of Cosas as the provincial treasure and has done tremendously well during her term of office.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a force to be reckon leader who stood firm in advocating for the LGBTQI+ community. Like a candle, she burnt herself for the benefit of others. Indeed she did not die, but she multiplied,” said Matyeni.
She said they would continue to celebrate Ndlwana’s life and would further communicate arrangements of a memorial service after visiting the family.
Funeka Soldaat, who has been an LGBTQ+ activist for more than three decades, called for improved government anti-gender-based violence strategies that will curb hate crimes and homophobic attacks.
“The problem is it’s mainly NGOs who try to make a noise about these incidents and educate our communities. There is only so much we can do. In this day and age you will find people including families that have people who are from the LGBTQ+ community but don’t know what is hate crime.
“We need more resources to be provided to educate and deal with this scourge, just because such issues don’t receive much attention doesn’t mean there is a season where they stop. I receive reports of people being threatened, attacked and intimidated all the time. Killing people because of who they are is inhuman,” said Soldaat.
She said sometimes hate crime cases take time to reach the court, but she was pleased with the case related to 16-year-old Liyabona Mabishi’s killing going to the Western Cape High Court on June 11.
Liyabona, from Nkanini in Stellenbosch, was stabbed to death last year on Human Rights Day for allegedly being openly lesbian.
Her friend, who was walking home with her, escaped death with a stab wound to the head.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Of SA’s (GLASA) Frank Gazu said they were irate by yet another murder.
“We live in a democratic society where we expect people to be more accepting. We call again the government to finalise the implementation of the Prevention and Combating Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill B9 of 2018. It will not solve all of our problems but it's a start,” said Gazu.
Women’s rights and gender-based violence advocacy group Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that yet another member of the LGBTQI+ community have been brutally murdered, as an organisation we are gravely concerned about the pervasive culture of intolerance that is deeply rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity that is plaguing our communities and urge communities to be more accepting of people's diversity particularly when it comes to sexuality, we shall never tolerate this form of discrimination and appeal to our justice system to impose harsh sentences on suspects of gender based violence.”
Anyone with information on the incident can anonymously contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111, or SMS Crime Line on 32211.