Beloved lesbian killed in suspected hate crime as wave of homophobia washes over South Africa

South Africa

South Africa is mourning yet another LGBT+ murder victim, a 24-year-old lesbian named Phelokazi Ndlwana.

Police were called to the crime scene on Mzolxolo Street in the Khayelitsha township on Sunday (2 May), where they found Ndlwana’s body.

“On their arrival they were directed by the community to the body of a female who succumbed to death of what appeared to be stab wounds to the chest area,” police spokesperson Andrè Traut told local media.

“Police detectives followed up on leads that they received and later arrested a suspect who is currently in custody.”

Ndlwana was last seen with friends at a bar opposite her house. Her friends said she went outside expecting to return quickly but took much longer.

When they got worried they went to check for her outside, where they found her her in a pool of blood. They saw the suspect walking away carrying a knife.

“I received their call around 1am and drove from Litha Park to there,” Balele said. “Unfortunately she died at the scene. Her body was covered by police and when checked, she had a stab wound below her breast on the left side. I still can’t believe she is gone.”

While a hate crime motive has not yet been determined, Ndlwana’s family believe she was killed because she lived openly as a lesbian.

“She never started fights with people and was loved by many. We believe this must have been a hate crime and call for justice,” Balele said.

Her murder comes amid a wave of anti-LGBT+ violence in South Africa. Just a day before the funeral was held for Lonwabo Jack, a 22-year-old gay man found murdered on his birthday.

Less than a week before his murder South African media learned of the death of another gay man, Nathaniel Mbele, who was stabbed in the chest.

Shortly before this police found the mutilated remains of Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela, a gay man who was butchered and burned.

He was tragically preceded by Sphamandla Khoza, 34, a gay man who was stabbed, beaten and had his throat slit in Durban.

“We are deeply saddened to hear that yet another member of the LGBTQI+ community have been brutally murdered,” a spokesperson for the Women’s rights and gender-based violence advocacy group Ilitha Labantu told IOL.

“As an organisation we are gravely concerned about the pervasive culture of intolerance that is deeply rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity that is plaguing our communities and urge communities to be more accepting of people’s diversity particularly when it comes to sexuality.

“We shall never tolerate this form of discrimination and appeal to our justice system to impose harsh sentences on suspects of gender based violence.”