October 12, 2012.
Cape Town - Lesbians in Nyanga are living in fear after a 19-year-old was stabbed to death in Samora Machel in what they believe was a hate crime.
Sihle Sikoji, a member of Luleki Sizwe, a project that supports lesbian, bisexual and transgender women (LBT) who have been raped, was stabbed in the chest with a “mini-spear”.
Sikoji’s friend, who withheld her name, told the Cape Argus that three of them had been drinking at a tavern on Friday and ran out of money. She and Sikoji decided to walk to a friend’s house to get money.
On their way back, more than five men “came from nowhere” and told them: “This is not the place or the time for you to be walking here, it’s for us Vooras.”
The Vooras is a gang that is feared in the area. “We just stood there in shock. One of them pulled out a mini-spear with a long blade and stabbed Sikoji once in the chest. She fell to the floor.”
The friend tried to intervene but was stabbed in an arm. She held Sikoji in her arms for more than two hours while waiting for an ambulance. Sikoji later died at Mitchells Plain Hospital.
“They [attackers] didn’t ask for money or cellphones. Most men hate us around here; they say we are trying to take their girlfriends. We are now terrified to leave the house… they are still out there,” she said.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut on Sunday confirmed the incident.
He said no arrests had been made and the motive for the murder was still unknown. A murder investigation is under way.
A month ago, Sikoji’s friend, who was with them before the attack, was raped at gunpoint in the same area.
They believe she was a victim of so-called corrective rape. She has not reported the rape out of fear of the perpetrators, who are well-known gangsters in the area.
When the Cape Argus visited Sikoji’s home in Philippi, her grandmother, Nomangesi Sikoji, 71, said she was still heartbroken over the death of her “jovial” granddaughter. “I looked at her once. Her eyes were closed as if she was sleeping… like she was going to wake up again.”
Sikoji’s mother, Ntombizanele Sikoji, 36, was being comforted by relatives on Sunday. She said her daughter had been very fond of soccer.
Luleki Sizwe founder Ndumie Funda said Sikoji was a “great help and would be irreplaceable” in the organisation.
“I am deeply hurt. We have lost another young lesbian who had great potential,” she said.
Funda urged “young and vulnerable” lesbians to be vigilant while walking in the townships.
“They need to take care of themselves and not advertise their sexuality to the community as we are still fighting homophobia. Being gay does not mean one has to be irresponsible. We are still under attack, therefore we have to be careful of where we socialise,” said Funda.
Comment: This is an absolutely tragic story and one that is too common in a country that claims to be a tolerant rainbow nation.
Why are lesbians so hated and feared in South African society? Our constitution is one of the most liberal documents when it comes to sexuality and yet lesbians are too often subjected to violent 'corrective rape' or murder.
I am deeply saddened to know that Ms. Sihle Sikoji was murdered for what is almost certainly a hate crime.
May she rest in peace until that day and may her family and loved ones find solace in her memory.