Lesbian ‘stoned to death’ in South Africa after receiving ‘rape and death threats’
A 24-year-old Zimbabwean lesbian was found “stoned to death” in South Africa after allegedly receiving rape and death threats by local men in the area.
Ruth “Nickki” Chigowe was found dead on 27 May in Katlehong, a large township in the country’s Gauteng Province, according to Mamba Online. She leaves behind a one-year-old daughter.
Her identity was confirmed on 31 May by Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) and a murder case has been opened at Katlehong North Police Station. No arrests have yet been made.
Zaheeda Munyai from Access Chapter 2, an organisation that promotes women empowerment and LGBTQ+ rights, told Mamba Online that before Chigowe was murdered, she and her girlfriend had “received homophobic threats from guys around the area wherein they uttered that they both deserve to be raped and killed”.
Munyai also claimed Chigowe had been disowned by her parents due to her sexuality, adding: “There is an urgent need for a massive intervention in Katlehong. LGBTI people live in fear and they can’t even disclose their relationships in public.”
A candlelit vigil was held for Chigowe on 3 June at Mapangha Ground, Kathlehong. Her death is the latest in a string of anti-LGBTQ+ killings in South Africa in recent months, following the brutal mutilation of lesbian Nontokozo Caroline Motloung, who was found dead in a bush on 21 May. Police are still searching for her killers.
And according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least 20 LGBTQ+ people were murdered in South Africa in 2021. It prompted the group to write a damning letter to South African authorities demanding better protections for the community.
“We are writing to express our concern about the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals killed and violently assaulted over the past year in circumstances that suggest their sexual orientation or identity was the reason that they were targeted,” the letter said.
“We request information about steps that you and other members of the National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-based Violence Perpetrated against LGBTI Persons (NTT) have taken or are planning to take to address this scourge.”