South Africa: Citizens Urged to Protect the Gay and Lesbian Community

KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC, Nonhlanhla Khoza, has urged South Africans to protect the gay and lesbian community from abuse and murder.

This follows the discovery of the body of a young woman, Anele Bhengu, 22. Her remains were found dumped in KwaMakhutha, south of Durban.

Bhengu was allegedly raped before being stabbed. Her throat was slit and her stomach was cut open.

It is believed that Bhengu was murdered after her friend fetched her from home.

Khoza said the brutal murder of Bhengu has sparked more fears with the gay and lesbian community, as they increasingly becoming targets of homophobia.

She said the increasing incidents of the murders of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied (LGBTQIA+) persons in the province are shocking, and "it is clear that more needs to be done to stop hate crimes".

"The brutal murder of this child is symptomatic of the challenges we have in society. We are left in shock and fear by the killing of our children in this province.

"Our Constitution was the first in the world to protect people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation. We also became the first on the African continent to legalise same-sex marriages, but we still experience these murders and abuse.

"We all have a responsibility to end these violent crimes in the province. We need to get to the bottom of this, as to why people have so much hatred towards the LGBTQIA+ community. We call on all citizens to work with law enforcement agencies, government and different bodies to end such cruelty," the MEC said.

Khoza sent her heartfelt condolences to the Bhengu family following their loss, and has assembled a team of social workers to meet with the grieving family to offer counselling.

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