Duduzile Zozo was found in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, South Africa tortured and murdered in what is being called a hate crime. The 26-year-old’s mother, Thuziwe Zozo, told reporters that she believes her daughter was murdered over being lesbian. Mrs. Zozo stated that “She was a lesbian but she has never had any problems before. People loved and appreciated her.”
Police are investigating reports that Zozo was seen in a tavern the night before her body was found, which was Sunday. Captain Godfrey Maditsi urged anyone with information “to come forward with any information that could help put those responsible behind bars”.
Thulisle Msiza, the director of Ekurhuleni LGBTI stated that “It seems that as lesbians we cannot go anywhere. We cannot be ourselves. We have to hide ourselves, otherwise we get killed. We have to stay indoors – like caged animals. It’s like we are living in the apartheid era again and homosexuals are the ones that are being oppressed.”
Despite having some of the most liberal LGBT related laws in Africa, South African lesbians and gays are often targets of often brutal hate crimes. Lesbians are especially vulnerable in South African society.
Ekurhuleni, a metropolitan municipality outside of Johannesburg, has been the scene of several brutal attacks on lesbians. This past April, Patricia Mashigo, an openly lesbian saleswoman and mother of two, was stoned to death. This came just a few days before the second anniversary of the murder of LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza. She was also stoned to death. These crimes remain unsolved.
There have been moves within the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to revive and reinvigorate their National Task Team. The NTT is suppose to be “promoting and enhancing the rights of LGBTI communities” and addressing “violence against LGBTI people”.
The Task Team has gotten little done in the two years it has been in existence. The DOJ&CD has said, though, that they are formulating a plan “to address violence against LGBTI people as well as the monitoring of pending and unresolved criminal cases involving LGBTI victims”.
Advocate Ooshara Sewpaul, a member of the NTT, stated “We are committed to further equality for all in South Africa. This not only involves the passing of relevant legislation but also actively working for social equality. Our Task Team will therefore also address attitudes of our own staff and the broader public. We are joining hands with civil society and want to make an impact.”