A lesbian who was raped and murdered in a South African township last week was clearly attacked because of her sexuality, gay campaigners say.

Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, was found dead in an alley in Kwa-Thema township, South Africa, on Easter Sunday morning. She was a prominent local gay rights activist and a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee, the key LGBT organisation in Kwa-Thema.

Reports said she had been stoned and stabbed with broken glass and there was evidence she had been raped.

Ms Nogwaza was killed in the same town as Eudy Simelane, a lesbian footballer who was raped and murdered in 2008. Her death sparked international concern about so-called ‘corrective rapes’ of lesbians in South Africa.

Human Rights Watch said it was likely Ms Nogwaza was killed because she was gay.

“[Her] death is the latest in a long series of sadistic crimes against lesbians, gay men, and transgender people in South Africa,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Dipika Nath.

“The vicious nature of the assault is a potent reminder that these attacks are premeditated, planned, and often committed with impunity.”

Ms Nogwaza was found dead after an altercation with men in a bar. No witnesses have come forward and no arrests have been made.

Tsakane Police are understood to be awaiting results of a post-mortem examination.

A spokesman from the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee said the death was “definitely” a hate crime and urged police to treat it as one.

He said: “Eudy [Simelane's] case was not recognised as a hate crime against a lesbian and the same is not done in the cases of many other people who have been raped and/or murdered on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in South Africa.”