Man who murdered lesbian who rejected his advances jailed for 25 years

The man responsible for the horrific homophobic murder of a 29-year-old South African lesbian has been sentenced to 25 years in jail.

On 12 February, 2021, Bonang Precious Gaelae was out with her fiancé and partner of four years Chippa Mahanoe in Sebokeng, South Africa.

She was attempting to buy airtime on land owned by 58-year-old Simon Mokoena when they got into a violent altercation.

The couple got away from Mokoena, but he went back to his home, got a knife and waited for them. When he saw the couple again, he stabbed Gaelae in the neck and threw a brick at Mahanoe, according to Mamba Online.

Mahanoe survived her injuries, but Gaelae was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.

Mokoena was arrested the following day after Mahanoe pointed him out to the police, per Times Live.

According to Mamba Online, Mokoena had previously tried to convince Gaelae to date him on numerous occasions, but she had rebuffed his advances.

On Wednesday (22 June), Mokoena appeared before the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court in Pretoria and was sentenced to a total of 58 years in prison on four counts.

South Africa continues to grapple with a rise in hate crimes against LGBT+ people. (Credit PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

Mokoena received 25 years for premeditated murder, eight years for attempted murder, and five years on two counts of aggravated assault. However, as the sentences will run concurrently, Mokoena will only serve 25 years.

National Prosecuting Authority Gauteng regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said: “In the victim impact statement the mother of the deceased said she is hurt because she lost her only child.” He added that Gaelae left behind two young children.

“Mohanoe said she is hurt because not only did she lose the love of her life, but she suffered financially because of her medical costs and is now suffering psychologically after she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

Advocate Salome Scheepers said in the court, per IOL, that gender-based violence continues to be a scourge in South Africa, and hate crimes continue to rise and are “impacting on almost every aspect of life.”

Scheppers said: “They (hate crimes) are a violation of human rights. The accused was not provoked but targeted defenceless women even after they left his premises.”

Last year in 2021, another brutal murder of a lesbian came after Gaelae’s case. Anele Bhengu’s body was found in Kwamakhutha, south of Durban, on 13 June after being raped, stabbed repeatedly and disembowled. Bhengu had gone to stay with a friend but was never seen alive again.

Hate crimes in the country countinue to rise at a terrifying rate with new cases cropping up everyday. Kamva Gwana, organiser from the LGBT+ movement Queer Lives Matter told Reuters: “This is a crisis, and it is worse than we thought, it is a war on queerness.”

As the “war on queerness” rages on, Azania Sengwayo, executive director of Vaal LGBTI, shared a hopeful message to Mamba Online that Gaelae’s trial shows that there can be justice for queer people in South Africa.

“For the first time, as the Vaal queer community we feel like the justice system has protected and recognised us,” Sengwayo added, “Of course, no amount of years that he’s charged with will erase the trauma and loss. But we are grateful for the win.”