KwaZulu-Natal - The friends of a lesbian who was murdered in Inanda, north of Durban, last weekend say they fear staying in the area, as the same might happen to them.

They were speaking at the funeral of Mandisa Mbambo, 25, on Sunday. She was found inside her room naked, beaten and stabbed, and with her hands and legs tied. It is believed she was also raped.

Nozie Ndlovu, a friend of Mbambo’s, said after the funeral that she and her friends were shattered by what had happened.

“We are scared of walking in the streets of this place after what happened to Mandisa. We need to leave this area because we are not safe at all,” she said.

The family’s spokesman, Ephraim Mbambo, told the grieving crowd that he had been at home last week when he heard a neighbour scream, “nayi ingane ibulawa (someone is killing the child)”. The neighbour even screamed out the name of the person who was beating Mbambo.

“I went outside with my wife and saw the person beating Mandisa,” he said.

“I then went to him and asked him why he was beating her, and told him that if she was in debt to him, I would pay.

He stopped beating her and then we all went home.”

Mbambo said the next day he received the a call telling him that the she had been murdered.

“When I got there, I could see that it was more then one person who had done this to her.

“Mandisa was a child who tried hard in life and worked several jobs to make some money.”

Hundreds of people, including KZN legislature deputy speaker Mtholephi Mthimkhulu, attended her funeral, all wondering about the motive for her murder.

Mthimkhulu told the gathering the killing was “immoral” and “uncalled for”.

Police have arrested four men, who will appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Welcoming the arrests, Mthimkhulu said: “I am very pleased that police made arrests.

One of them is well-known and was recently released from prison.”

He urged the community to stand up to any sort of abuse, and said the sexual orientation of a person was irrelevant.

“She had a right to be lesbian,” Mthimkhulu said. - The Mercury