The Commission on Gender Equality has slammed the police and the Department of Justice for not doing their best to solve homophobic crimes.
The Star reported recently on the striking similarity in the murders of four gay men. And in the wake of the commission’s condemnation of the violence against the gay community, The Star has also been alerted to a fifth murder that bears similarities to the other cases.
The commission has said it was concerned about lengthy delays in cases relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.
It said full investigations needed to be conducted, especially into the murders mentioned in The Star’s report.
The commission’s spokesman, Javu Baloyi, said there was outrage in the commission after The Star reported on the four murders.
“Cases of this nature are not taken seriously by the police or the justice department,” he said.
“It is our firm belief that the Department of Constitutional Development and Justice has to come to the party in ensuring that the plight of LGBT (and intersexed) people (receive the necessary attention and investigation),” he added.
All four victims mentioned in The Star’s report on Monday were killed in the past 10 months. They were tied up and strangled inside private homes within the greater Joburg area.
Police reported no signs of forced entry and believe these killings may be the work of a serial killer or a homophobic gang.
The lack of break-ins may mean the victims knew their would-be killers and could have invited them in.
The victim who has come to light after the previous report in The Star is Manolis Veloudos. He was found in his home in Greenside in April last year.
He was bound and murdered, seemingly by someone he had invited into his home. Again, there was no sign of forced entry onto the property, and very little was stolen.
He was also discovered to have an online dating site profile, which he had used to meet men, much like in the cases of several of the other victims.
However, Veloudos was bludgeoned to death with his laptop rather than strangled.
While a suspect was charged with murder, DNA evidence taken from the scene did not match the suspect.
This means the murderer may still be on the loose.
The victim’s niece, Evita Veloudos, said CCTV footage of her uncle with an unknown man on the night of the murder was given to the police, but it was subsequently lost by the investigating officers.
The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19.
The murder was discovered by security guards after they had noticed his car gate open and his front door unlocked.
Since the incident was reported, distraught relatives, friends and other members of the gay community have come forward, describing other recent violent crimes that seemed similar.
In the first attack in December last year, Jim Cathels was found dead at his home in Berea.
Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, was bound and strangled by an unknown assailant or assailants.
Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, was killed in a similar manner at his flat in Kliptown, Soweto, on September 11, a week before Van Heerden’s death.
Anyone with information on similar crimes in recent months is requested to e-mail the details to shain.germaner @inl.co.za - The Star