Cape Town - The only crime Noxolo Xakeka from Strand committed was that she was a lesbian. She was stabbed to death on New Year’s Day.
During celebrations in a shack in Blaau Street, Lwandle, the 23-year-old mother was harassed, called names and assaulted before being stabbed to death by a young man. Her family claim the attack was because of her sexual orientation.
Her distraught cousin, Nokuthula Ntlazana,40, said Xakeka was called by her friends to her neighbour's shebeen to celebrate together.
“Everyone was having fun until a man provoked her by touching and teasing her about her sexuality. An argument started and she fought back as the man started beating her. Her friends and other people stopped the fight and it seemed everything was fine for a minute.
"The brother of the man who was harassing Nokuthula also made snide remarks. When she was defending herself he grabbed a knife and stabbed her three times,” Ntlazana said.
Xakeka later died in hospital. She leaves her 6-year-old son. Ntlazana said her parents, who came from the Eastern Cape for funeral preparations were taking the news hard - as a result her mother was experiencing seizures.
Outraged LGBTI rights organisations said hate crime on black lesbians was mostly prevalent in townships and rural areas and called for the speeding up of the Hate Crimes Bill.
Research, Advocacy and Policy Manager at Triangle Project, Matthew Clayton, said: "At last count there were 12 open cases in the Western Cape alone. Four of these were for murder while others were cases of rape or serious assault. The cases reported to NGOs are barely the surface of the problem and we don’t have any real idea of the levels of violence against LGBTI people.”
Founder of Khayelitsha based lesbian advocacy group, Free Gender, Funeka Soldaat, has called on communities to unite and prioritise hate crimes.
“It seems that since 2016 we have been burying lesbians killed brutally in a very strange way in our townships. For instance the ongoing case of Noluvo Swelindawo, 22, from Khayelitsha who was abducted, assaulted and shot dead.These are all young women who just want to be loved and accepted,” Soldaat said.
Sharon Cox, another activist, said gays and lesbians constantly endured verbal abuse, especially at night and weekends.
“This proves that men still feel entitled to women’s bodies and if a women does not comply with what society deems acceptable, she will suffer abuse and in the most tragic of circumstances, will lose her life.
"This is the second murder that has taken place in Lwandle. In the past 18 months we have had three murders and two gang rapes in a 12km radius from each other in the Bella Vista area.”
Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said a murder case was registered for investigation and a suspect, 26, appeared at the Strand Magistrate's Court on Thursday. The case was remanded for April 12.
Xakeka's memorial service will be in Lwandle on Saturday from 10am.