By: Hlengiwe Mkhasibe

I am human and a citizen of South Africa!  I am myself! Your opinion of me DOES NOT take away my right to Life, Equality, Human Dignity….

“Our nation is founded on the commitment to build a non-racial, non-sexist and human rights-based society. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution sets out the very basic rights that we all enjoy in a democratic South Africa…” (Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Michael Masutha during a media briefing on Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill – 24 October 2016.

What is Hate Crime? It is a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice, typically one involving violence.

What is Hate Speech? It is a speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation.

The aim of this article is not to instil hate in those at the receiving end of this gun barrel, however it is to educate and enlighten, highlight and encourage the LGBTI community as a collective to continue to fight against this ousting of their right to equality as pertaining their sexual orientation.

“Lesbian killed in Driftsands”… Lwazi Swelindawo, a 22-year-old activist was dragged from her home in Driftsands, near Khayelitsha, by up to 11 men a lesbian was assaulted on Friday then abducted from her home in Driftsands near Khayelitsha on Saturday night and shot dead. (News | 4 December 2016 – Cape News)

This within a space of months of parliament having tabled the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, which offered expectations of progress in the reprimanding and bringing to justice perpetrators of such heinous violence, instead of the norm of instances such as a “lesbian” is raped as a corrective measure BUT the impact of the act  of rape itself not be considered to use as an aggravating enough circumstance to even prosecute harshly as this type of crime (one coupled with so much hate) is very severe….and as such the harshest of sentences must be imposed!!!

“Eudy Simelane (11 March 1977 – 28 April 2008)” was a South African footballer who played for the South Africa women’s national football team and an LGBT-rights activist. She was raped and murdered in her hometown of KwaThema, Springs, Gauteng. Her partially clothed body was found in a creek in KwaThema. She had been abducted, gang raped, beaten, and stabbed 25 times in the face, chest, and legs. She died at the age of 21…

This being the first of many others before Eudy’s to secure a conviction in 10 years worth of reported such crimes which were dubbed by their perpetrators as “corrective”, or “a cure”….

I’m baffled, my blood boils, I’m nauseated, I pace with retaliation thoughts brought by the pain, anger, violence, and even audacity of the very perpetrators, who clearly believe that their hate of someone else’s choices justifies them and automatically entitles only them protection of the  Constitution as well as the Justice system – and even of a higher power.

It is commendable what the above Bill is meant to achieve for everyone who is affected by Hate Crime in a fashion similar to the Lwazi’s and Eudy’s of this country.

For the longest time it has been difficult to make certain that such crimes / violence be formally and legally regarded as hate crimes to be punishable in a way that is just as harsh. It has been a challenge to police and prosecute hate crimes such as these, and one of the aims of this Bill is to create obligations for the South African Police Services, the National Prosecuting Authority to identify hate as a motive in crimes and investigate and prosecute BASED on this very light.

In the many cases throughout South Africa, common to all is the failure from the end of law enforcement to understand the above – hate is a MOTIVE in a crime such as “corrective rape” and murder of a lesbian purely because to the perpetrators, their sexual orientation is not “normal”. You could look at this issue in this sense and it would be justifiable, however sections such as 16(2) of the Constitution of the Republic in as much as it isn’t specifically excluding hatred / hate speech in the context of this engagement, it leaves open what in my opinion I regard as a loop hole. The Bill in this discussion seeks to achieve just that – clarity and thereafter command implementation once passed.

LGBTI Community and the Community at large should continue to show / display support in the numbers in attendance at criminal proceedings that do make it to our Court in demonstration of the emphasis of HATE being both aggravating and motive enough to warrant the harshest punishment.

Now, as the English language says, Rome was not built in a day, at the same breath persistence in causes such as this does bring change, as has been seen in the history of this country as well as of many other countries where mobilization of numbers continuously do achieve the goal no matter the time frame of the fight.

Disheartened as one is as a citizen of this country and a mother of two daughters whose choices I am not aware of as yet, it kills me to read and or hear of such cases as the case of Philisiwe Zibane, in this day and age, progress and access to information – within Human Rights Month a lady well within her RIGHT to choose orientation of her choice is attending trial and awaiting with hope for a worthy enough sentence.

It is disgusting how hate, once again, resulted in 19 January 2015 being an indelible mark on Philisiwe Zibane who was not only physically assaulted, but taken to the bushes, then eventually shot at – all of which was with intention to harm or even kill her because of this very hate that – wait for it – a former companion / boyfriend harboured against her purely because of HER sexual orientation and HER own right!!!

Philisiwe Zibani was in a heterosexual relationship with the perpetrator, whom she soon discovered was married and had not informed her of such, further to that unfolded more lies such as their place of comfort being actually the very home of the companion and his wife, which she had to all hear from a friend. Taking a stance in all this, she ended the relationship, which then led to beginning of the bitterness.

Philisiwe later engaged in a relationship with her current companion / girlfriend, which sparked hatred, resentment because of the choice she had made on her own accord after having left. The former companion began to physically abuse Philisiwe, took her to bushes threatening to kill her, and this led to her former companion shooting her on 19 January 2015. She sustained head injuries and was hospitalised for 3months.

Bill of rights Section 9

  • Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
  • Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
  • The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
  • No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
  • Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair.

Be the above as it may, the introduction of the Bill discussed above is to even further assist the enforcement of the above right, to zoom into and draw emphasis in a more concise and to the point way, to the hate being a motive issue that has been the cause of our courts not securing convictions as much as stated above – the lack of understanding on the part of the law enforcers needs all affected and touched by such to put up arms (non-violent) and push even  harder to achieve this and get justice that’s appropriate for women such as Philisiwe Zibane whose matter’s conclusion, judgement and sentencing not only requires women all over to continue chanting and petitioning and demonstrating (legally) their views on this issue that has plagued and continues to kill our gems purely because of someone’s ignorance.

It stops now!!!!!

The Rape!

The Deaths!

The Justification from the Hater!

The Slander!

The name calling!

The Silence!

The feeling of Shame because of your choice!

The sense of Entitlement of the Hater!

The Man (Hater) nursing a bruised ego because of your choice after him!