Cape Town - 121205 - Boniwe Tyatyeka mother of slain Ntsiki is comforted by Nongazi Tyatyeka as she breaks down during the service while other family members stand alongside. Free Gender hosted a memorial service in OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha for three lesbians who have been slain as a result of gender based violence in their community. This marks the 16 days of activism against gender violence and was accompanied by the unveiling of 3 commemorative plaques, presented to the families of the victims. REPORTER: NOTANDO MPOSO. PICTURE: THOMAS HOLDER

Khayelitsha - This year has brought to the fore just how much danger and hate lesbians living in the townships still face every day, says activist and Free Gender founder Funeka Soldaat.

“It has been a bad year for gays and lesbians [despite] the beginning of democracy,” Soldaat said. “This year we had the worse cases of shockingly brutal hate crimes in our communities, yet we are supposed to be free.”

Soldaat was speaking at an event held at the Oliver Tambo community hall in Khayelitsha on Thursday to commemorate 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, which runs from November 25 until December 10.

The global campaign is dedicated to ending gender-based violence.

Soldaat said that although the campaign aimed to fight gender-based violence, not enough was being done to highlight the plight of the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community.

“Not enough noise is being made about hate crimes. Task teams formed by the government throughout the year are yet to come back to us with feedback,” she said.

At the event, three mosaic pictures of victims killed in hate crimes, Ntsiki Tyatyeka, 21, Zoliswa Nkonyana, 19, and 23-year-old Phumeza Nkolonzi were unveiled and given to their families.

Tyatyeka’s mother Nombasa, said her daughter’s death was still “fresh in her heart” a year later. She sobbed uncontrollably when she was handed the picture of her daughter.

Since the beginning of the year, several lesbians from Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Kosovo have been assaulted or killed.

Last month, 19-year-old Sihle Sikoji was stabbed to death with a “minispear” in Samora Machel.

A group of lesbians from Khayelitsha, who asked not to be named, told the Cape Argus that since Sikoji’s funeral two weeks ago, things had not “calmed down” in the area.

“It’s getting worse and the scary thing is these guys know where we live. There is nothing stopping them from coming to our homes… we just have to wait to see who will be next,” she said.

Helen Lamoela, DA spokeswoman for Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities, said there was an urgent need for sexuality based education campaigns in the townships.

“We need programmes that will address and teach communities about homosexuality,” she said. - Cape Argus