A lesbian woman has been brutally raped with a toilet brush and murdered in what is believed to have been a hate crime in Ekurhuleni over the weekend.
The Daily Sun reported on Monday that the half-naked body of 26-year-old Duduzile Zozo was found in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, outside of Johannesburg, on Sunday morning.
Police revealed that they had discovered a toilet brush rammed into her vagina.
Zozo's grieving mother, Thuziwe Zozo, told the newspaper that she suspects that her daughter was murdered because of her sexuality.
“She was a lesbian but she has never had any problems before. People loved and appreciated her," she said.
In one of her final posts on Facebook on Friday, the young woman wrote: "In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take, relationship we are afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make..."
Police said that they were investigating reports that she had been seen in a tavern on Saturday night.
Captain Godfrey Maditsi urged the community "to come forward with any information that could help put those responsible behind bars".
An emotional Thulisle Msiza, Director of Ekurhuleni LGBTI, told Mambaonline that she was shocked and saddened by news of the latest attack.
“It seems that as lesbians we cannot go anywhere. We cannot be ourselves. We have to hide ourselves, otherwise we get killed. We have to stay indoors – like caged animals,” she said. “It’s like we are living in the apartheid era again and homosexuals are the ones that are being oppressed.”
The Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality has been the location of a number of brutal attacks on lesbian women.
In April, the body of the openly lesbian Patricia Mashigo (36), a self-employed sales woman and mother of two children, was discovered out in the open in the Daveyton township.
She appeared to have been stoned to death. Rocks and stones were found near her body.
Days later, activists gathered in nearby KwaThema to mark the second anniversary of the murder of 24-year-old Noxolo Nogwaza, a particularly brutal hate crime that remains unsolved. Nogwaza too was stoned to death.
Last week, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) issued a statement about the status of its controversial National Task Team which is aimed at "promoting and enhancing the rights of LGBTI communities" with the immediate priority "to address violence against LGBTI people".
The task team, which consists of government players and some LGBTI rights groups, has been criticised for having accomplished very little during its more than two years in existence.
There have, however, been recent moves to reinvigorate the task team.
The DOJ&CD said that an action plan has now been formulated "to address violence against LGBTI people as well as the monitoring of pending and unresolved criminal cases involving LGBTI victims".
It further said that the task team also intends to sensitise government officials to the service needs of LGBTI people and that a communication strategy is under development to raise awareness on issues of discrimination against LGBTI people.
“We are committed to further equality for all in South Africa. This not only involves the passing of relevant legislation but also actively working for social equality. Our Task Team will therefore also address attitudes of our own staff and the broader public. We are joining hands with civil society and want to make an impact,” said Advocate Ooshara Sewpaul, a task team member from the DOJ&CD.
Unfortunately, for Duduzile Zozo and many others like her these strategies and action plans have come too late.
Eugene Brockman from the Gay Flag of South Africa said that the latest statement from the DOJ&CD revealed nothing new. He expressed concern that the task team had still not committed to any fixed time frames to accomplish its work.
“It’s very vague about when they are going to do things. They have had two years to do something,” he said.
Msiza added that while she welcomed the efforts of the task team and LGBTI activists working with government, “It’s not enough. More people need to come and stand against this. Things are bad, really bad,” she said.