Family finds gay man’s body at the end of a trail of blood after he’s violently murdered and dumped near a school

Sphamandla Khoza

A community in South Africa is demanding justice for the brutal murder of a gay man who was stabbed to death and dumped in a ditch near a school.

Sphamandla Khoza, 34, was stabbed, beaten and had his throat slit in a suspected homophobic hate crime in Inanda, Durban, last week. His family reportedly followed a trail of blood from his front door to the ditch where his body lay.

Khoza was openly gay and is said to have faced threats whenever he left the house; the last time he was seen on heard from, he was being verbally abused for his sexuality.

“It is heartbreaking,” his cousin Ndumiso Daluxolo Ngidi told News24 on Friday (2 April). “He was openly gay. Everyone knew he was gay. He had a partner.”

“His crime was to live openly as a gay man,” he continued on Facebook. “Yes, Spha died because someone hated his sexuality so much that they decided to end his life.

“As a child, Spha was full of life. He commanded attention with his infectious laugh and random dance moves. He always managed to get us all into trouble because he dared go where adults said we shouldn’t. A leader of the pack in so many ways.”

The brutal murder came a day after the sentencing of the killer of Lindo Cele, a well-known Durban LGBT+ activist who was stabbed to death in broad daylight last year.

With Khoza’s death bringing fresh memories of the attack, LGBT+ South Africans shared their grief and shock online under the hashtag #JusticeForSphamandla.

“This community is still resistant to accepting LGBT+ people and still holds very conservative attitudes that are founded on culture and religion,” said an activist speaking to eNCA.

“Unfortunately such sentiments, such attitudes often manifest in either gay bashing or in extreme circumstances, as happened with Sphamandla, murder of queer bodies.”

On Thursday Sphamandla Khoza’s loved ones carried Pride flags in a solemn march through his neighbourhood to keep focus on his case. The march ended with a vigil at the ditch where his body was found, which activists filled with candles and homemade lanterns.

According to a KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, one suspect is currently in custody after handing themselves in to police on Tuesday.

They appeared in court on Thursday, and the case is due to be heard again on 14 April.