The South African government has announced the formation of a task team to tackle anti-gay hate crimes.

Government spokesman Tlali Tlali said that the decision was taken yesterday, a week after a lesbian was raped and murdered in in Kwa-Thema township.

Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, was openly gay and campaigners said it was clear she was killed because of her sexuality.

Mr Tlali said that the task force would comprise the police, the social development department, six judges and six LGBT campaigners.

“The team will be charged with developing a legislative intervention plan, a public awareness strategy, and LGBTI-sensitive shelters,” he said.

Human rights groups say that so-called ‘corrective rape’ is a particular problem in the country. The hate crime involves lesbians being targeted by men who believe they can be ‘cured’ through rape.

Today’s announcement follows a 170,000-signature Change.org petition, which called on South African authorities to address the problem.

According to Sapa news agency, government ministers are considering harsher sentences for attacks motivated by sexual orientation, plus preventative measures such as allowing equality courts to address issues such as harassment or hate speech.

No one has been arrested over Ms Nogaza’s death. She 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 ‘corrective rape’.