By NONHLANHLA HLATSHWAYO
DURBAN - FEAR is rife among the LGBTQ+ community following the brutal murder of Sphamandla Khoza, who was allegedly bullied over his sexuality prior to his death. Khoza, 35, was laid to rest on Sunday at Ntuzuma.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a case of murder was being investigated by Ntuzuma SAPS. She said a 25-year-old had been arrested and charged with the murder. He appeared in court last week.
Ndumiso Daluxolo Ngidi, Khoza’s cousin, said the family was going through a difficult process trying to come to terms with the death of his cousin.
Ngidi said Khoza’s body was found in a ditch not far from his home.
“His body was discovered by a driver who saw a trail of fresh blood. He followed the trail to the ditch where he discovered Sphamandla’s body.”
Ngidi said the family had last seen Sphamandla at a place near his home where he was drinking with people from the neighbourhood the night before his body was discovered.
Ngidi said his cousin had been bullied for his sexuality by people in his neighbourhood.
He said a march was held by the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or sometimes questioning, and others) community in Ntuzuma to raise awareness about homophobia after Khoza’s death, but said there was a poor turnout from residents.
“I guess it’s the homophobia and people fearing to be seen marching with queer people, so their reaction remained quite negative and conservative. However, we did receive a lot of messages of support from people we did not even know who were touched by the story,” he said.
Ngidi said his “bubbly” cousin was very close to his grandmother he had lived with. “He loved his grandmother, and she loved him. His sexuality was never an issue with his family, they loved him for who he was.”
Khoza’s death follows the sentencing of Mvuyisi Noguda who murdered LGBTQ+ activist, Lindokuhle Cele. Cele was stabbed 21 times in full view of the community in February last year in uMlazi. Noguda was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the hate crime.
Sondelani Mwandla, an executive member of the Rainbow organisation for the LGBTQ+ community, said Khoza’s death showed that there was still a challenge to educate people about sexual orientation and gender diversity.
“We have just found closure with Lindo’s case and now we are faced with this, it is very challenging,” he said.
Mwandla said it was no longer up to them or the government to educate people, it was up to the people. “We never wanted exclusive rights to be protected, we just want people to see us beyond our sexuality.
“This is a conversation that heterosexual people need to have because it begins with them not laughing when a homosexual person is being bullied; they need to call people out,” he said.