South Africa: Murder of Lesbian Prompts Mpumalanga March Against Violence

800 people march after Portia Mtsweni killed in Tweefontein

The murder of a lesbian woman in Tweefontein in Mpumalanga prompted a march against gender-based violence by residents of Thembisile Hani Local Municipality on 2 January.

Portia Mtsweni, 25, was found dead near Zamani Primary School in the early hours of Sunday, 29 December 2019. She was found half naked with stab wounds on her body.

Friends described her as someone who was kind, bubbly, a "prayer warrior" who loved her family.

Over 800 people took part in the peaceful protest organised by Lasiphumakhona LGBTI, the ANC Women's League and others. Lasiphumakhona LGBTI, which fights for the rights of the gay and lesbian community in KwaNdebele, is the brainchild of Lasiphumakhona Community Development Project.

Mayor of Thembisile Hani Local Municipality, Nomsa Mtsweni, said people should stand united against gender-based violence. "It should be our duty as parents, leadership, church leaders. If we are talking everywhere -- at our homes, in the churches, at schools, and whatever gathering that we are at -- I believe that we can end gender based violence," said Mtsweni.

Absalom Mdluli, chairperson of Lasiphumakhona LGBTI said community members should learn to live with the LGBTI community. "We do wish to get as much support from the community members because without them, we are on our own," said Mdluli.

A memorandum was handed over to the police asking that they specify when the victim of rape or murder was gay or lesbian. "We want our cases to be reported as LGBTI cases. We are tired of reporting our cases in a manner that feels comfortable to you. In the report we demand that you write that a lesbian woman or a gay man was raped or murdered and not hide behind your cultural, religious or moral obligations."

Brigadier Caroline Lindiwe Dlamini received the memorandum on behalf of the seven KwaMhlanga Cluster police stations. She promised to respond within 14 days.

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