Current Affairs

Man jailed for life over murder and rape of lesbian footballer

Jessica Geen September 22, 2009
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A man was jailed for life today for the murder and rape of a lesbian South African footballer.

Eudy Simelane, a player for Banyana Banyana and prominent South African gay rights activist, was stabbed to death in April 2008. She had been robbed, gang-raped and stabbed to death. Her body was left in a stream.

Themba Mvubu, 24, from Kwathema, was found guilty of murder, robbery and being an accessory to the rape.

As he was sentenced, Mvubu muttered: “I’m not sorry”.

Khumbulani Magagula, 22, and 18-year-old Johannes Mahlangu were acquitted today.

A fourth man, Thato Mphithi, was convicted earlier this year of murder, robbery and being an accomplice to a rape attempt. He was sentenced to a minimum of 32 years in prison.

Although a previous ruling had said Simelane’s homosexuality was not a factor in her death, Judge Mokgoathleng suggested her fame as a footballer had contributed to it.

Lesbian and gay activists said she was well-known as a lesbian and was noticeably butch.

A report in March last year found that “corrective rapes” on lesbians in South Africa were increasing.

According to charity ActionAid, women in Johannesburg and Cape Town are suffering an increase in homophobic attacks and sexual assaults which are seen as a form of punishment or “cure”.

One lesbian and gay support group says it is dealing with ten new cases of lesbian women being targeted for “corrective” rape every week in Cape Town alone.

Figures suggest there are an estimated 500,000 rapes in South Africa every year and for every 25 men accused of rape in the country, 24 walk free.

More: Africa

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