Man charged with brutal murder and rape of young lesbian

Anele Bhengu

A South African man has been charged with the brutal rape and murder of a young lesbian, 22-year-old Anele Bhengu.

Bhengu’s body was found dumped in a ditch in Kwamakhutha, a township south of Durban, on 13 June. She had been raped and stabbed repeatedly, her throat and abdomen was slit and she had been disemboweled.

A 39-year-old man, who cannot be named until he has formally pleaded, appeared in court on Monday (21 June) on charges of rape, murder, and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.

“If there was a death penalty, we would have loved to see him being eliminated from the face of the earth,” said the victim’s aunt, Nontokozo Bhengu. “He has caused us immeasurable pain.”

The suspect has been remanded in custody until 30 June. He was arrested by police on 17 June after being found hiding in the Mahlandlini area on the south coast.

“Upon seeing the police officers, the suspect fled from his home into the nearby bushes. The police gave chase and he was caught in the bushes,” said police spokesperson Thembeka Mbhele.

On the night of the murder Anele Bhengu was visiting a longtime friend in the area. According to IOL, she was last seen at around 9pm when she left the house to go to the toilet. Her body was found dumped the following morning.

Bhengu’s family believe she was murdered simply because she was a lesbian, the latest victim in a “war on queerness” plaguing South Africa’s LGBT+ community.

The true scale of violence may never be known as most hate crime cases go undetected, according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, though local media has reported the murders of at least 16 known queer people since February.

They include Phelokazi Ndlwana, a 24-year-old lesbian who was stabbed to death outside a bar last month, Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela,  a gay man who was butchered and burned, Lonwabo Jack, who was found murdered on his 22nd birthday, and many, many more.

Hlengiwe Buthelezi, director of the KwaZulu-Natal LGBT group, said they were “pleased” with the prompt arrest in Bhengu’s case; many other murders have gone unsolved.