Noluvo Swelindawo was apparently killed because she was a lesbian, the Western Cape High Court heard. Picture: Supplied

Noluvo Swelindawo was well-liked in Driftsands, near Khayelitsha, where she lived with her partner Nqabisa Mkatali. Neighbours describe 22-year-old Noluvo as a kind woman who never had any problems with anyone in the community.

The only difference between Noluvo and Nqabisa and their neighbours was that the couple lived openly as lesbians, something which was still somewhat unusual in their community. However, the couple was well-liked and nobody could have predicted that somebody in the area was nursing a potentially dangerous grudge against them.

On Friday, December 2, 2016, Noluvo suffered a swollen eye after being assaulted by a young man who lived in the neighbourhood. Sigcine Mdani had stamped on Noluvu’s head and kicking her in the face several times.

The next day the windows to her house were shattered and the door kicked open. Noluvo was abducted by her assailant/s. On Sunday, December 4, her body was found with a gunshot wound near the N2 highway.

Noluvo's partner was also assaulted and threatened after her death, and even had to go into hiding for a while.

Passing judgment during the murder trial, Western Cape High Court Judge Derek Wille said Mdani’s desire to kill Noluvo was fuelled by his intolerance of her sexual orientation. 

Noluvo's killer has been sent to jail for 18 years but this is cold comfort for her family and friends who have lost a young woman they loved and whose only "crime" was her sexuality.

Noluvo will never celebrate another Women's Month, another birthday or another Christmas. She will never have the opportunity to see the dreams she had for herself fulfilled.

For Noluvo'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.

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