A lesbian has been killed in a violent homophobic attack in South Africa.
Noxolo Xakeka, 23, was tragically murdered on New Year’s Day in an attack that escalated from a homophobic slur to a stabbing.
Xakeka was on her way to a party at a neighbour’s house with friends and her partner when a man approached them and made a comment about their sexuality.
He reportedly told them that they needed to “stop this business” leading to a fight to break out.
Carol Cox, a manager at the Triangle Project which is providing support for Xakeka’s family and friends, said that she fought back.
The suspect then allegedly followed Xakeka and her friends into the neighbour’s home before pulling out a knife and stabbing her three times.
She was rushed to hospital and later died of her injuries.
““This was the third murder over the festive period in the past three years where a woman has been killed because of her sexual orientation.
“We (the lesbian community) do not separate ourselves from the struggle of women, but what makes this different is that a man could not understand a woman was not interested in him (sexually),” she said.
Velisa Jara, a spokesperson for black lesbian support group Free Gender, said that Xakeka’s family were not yet ready to talk about her death.
However, Jara insisted that they were seeing a worrying rise in the number of lesbians being killed.
“It seems since 2016 we have been burying lesbians killed brutally in a very strange way in our townships,” they said.
A spokesperson for the police confirmed the murder and that a 26-year-old suspect had been arrested and charged.
The case will be heard in court from January 12.
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A memorial is set to be held for Xakeka on January 6 in Lwandle by the Triangle Project.
South Africa is one of few African countries which recognises and guarantees the enjoyment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s (LGBTI) human rights in their constitution.
Despite this, South Africa has a notoriously high rate of rape – including ‘corrective rape’ – used to ‘cure’ lesbian women of their homosexuality.
According to Tracy Jean-Pierre, programme manager from Enza Social Research: “Corrective rape is a horrifying, growing trend in South Africa and a key driver of HIV infection in the lesbian community.”
A number of lesbian activists in South Africa are working tirelessly to improve LGBT human rights.
Nthabiseng Mokanyane is one of those activists.
She was inspired to campaign after losing her close childhood friend, Nonkie Smous, who was raped and murdered because of her sexuality.
Nthabiseng, 25, is calling for religious and government leaders to respond to escalating threats against the lesbian community in Kroonstad, South Africa.
“Since Nonkie’s death, people feel they can get away with everything,” said Nthabiseng. “Women identifying as butch lesbians are particularly singled out – being harassed for thinking they are ‘men’ and being threatened about the need to be ‘taught they are women’.”