Former Banyana Banyana midfielder Eudy Simelane was a passionate human being. She was crazy about soccer, coaching various teams after the end of her career with Banyana. She was also an activist for gay rights and social change and would fight tooth and nail for the rights of LGBTI people like herself. But Eudy was also a daughter, a sister and a friend. And at long last, she was about to start a real job with a salary which would allow her to help support her parents.
Eudy spent the last days before she was to start work at a law firm in Pretoria getting herself ready and spending time with her family and friends. She was something of a celebrity in KwaThema where everyone knew that she had played for the national team and that she was openly lesbian.
On Aril 28, 2008, Thato Petros Mphiti, Khumbulani Magagula, Johannes Mahlangu and Themba Mvubu met Simelane while on their way from a local tavern just after midnight. They claim that they wanted to rob her but she had no money and recognised at least one of her assailants. So they beat her, stabbed her and gang-raped her repeatedly. They left her half-naked body lying in a ditch on a patch of grass which had become a notorious dumping ground for bodies. She had 25 stab wounds on her legs, chest and face. Even the soles of her feet were lacerated.
As soon as he heard that police were looking for him, Mphiti handed himself over and confessed to his part in the gruesome murder. He was eventually sentenced to 32 years behind bars. The other suspects insisted that they only wanted to rob Eudy and did not know she was lesbian. It would take two trials before Eudy's friends and family would see a measure of justice done. A second attacker was handed a 35-year sentence for the murder which was now branded a hate crime against lesbians.
Eudy never got to start the job she was so excited about. She will never celebrate another Christmas, birthday or Women's Month. Eudy will never see the dreams she had for herself and her family realised.
For Eudy's sake and the sake of women everywhere, if you know somebody who has committed an act of violence against a woman Don't Look Away.
If you know a young woman's life is in danger, Don't Look Away.
If you are able to help prevent another tragedy, Don't Look Away.
* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.