DURBAN - THE family of a lesbian woman who was shot and killed believe her death was mostly influenced by her sexuality. Limakatso Puling, 29, was shot and killed in Avoca Hills on Tuesday night.
Her funeral is on Saturday in Matatiele. It is alleged Puling and a friend were walking home when they were approached by armed men who demanded their cellphones. It is believed that Puling refused to hand over her cellphone leading to one of the men shooting her in the head.
Thembeka Ngcengula, Puling’s girlfriend, said it would take her a very long time to come to terms with her loss. Not only had she lost a partner but a parent to her disabled daughter, Olwethu, she said.
“She had just woken up and cut Olwethu’s nails, when she left the house at around 2pm. I never paid attention when she left. Something told me to text her about her whereabouts on WhatsApp. She never responded.
“At around 6pm she messaged on Moya messenger, saying she was with our friend Muke at Quarry Heights. I did not respond. I was upset she had left without saying. Worse, she went to the area that I told her not to go to as it is dangerous.”
She panicked when she called Puling but her phone went unanswered. “Suddenly it was off. I knew then something was wrong. Later, her other friend and some girl told me Limakatso was shot.”
Ngcengula said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw Puling lying on her back in a pool of blood at the crime scene. “I wish she had just given up the phone or came home earlier.”
Lineo Puling, Limakatso’s aunt, said the family were heartbroken. They were expecting to see her in the December holidays. She said Puling had called home a weekend before her death and told them to make arrangements for a family get-together.
“I don’t even know where to begin explaining the hurt our family, especially her grandmother, is going through. We haven’t seen her since 2018. Receiving her phone calls telling us she was coming home brought so much joy. Unfortunately, it was short-lived.”
Lineo said they were saddened that their daughter was robbed of her chance at life because of her sexuality.
“We contacted her friend who she was with when they were attacked. She told us that when Limakatso refused (to give) her phone, those men kept calling her names regarding her sexuality. The killers must be gloating that they killed a lesbian. Was she not a human being? She was a lesbian woman and didn’t deserve to be killed. I hope justice will be served one day.”
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a murder case was opened at Greenwood Park police station.
Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said they were concerned about crimes motivated by hate. She urged the community to join forces with the government to prevent such incidents.
“We’ve seen a lot of these incidents because of intolerance. It’s distressing to be a victim of a hate crime because of who you are or what you believe.”