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January 18, 2022


Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development

Honourable Deputy Minister John Jeffery, MP


Greetings Honorable Deputy Minister John Jeffery,

We hope this finds you in good health.

We are writing to express our concern about the number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals killed and violently assaulted over the past year in circumstances that suggest their sexual orientation or identity was the reason that they were targeted, and to request information about steps that you and other members of the National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-based Violence Perpetrated against LGBTI Persons (NTT) have taken or are planning to take to address this scourge.

As noted by the Justice and Correctional Services Minister at the LGBTIQ+ Inclusion and Empowerment Workshops at Constitution Hill on October 14, 2021, and as documented by journalists on MambaOnline, at least 20 LBGTI individuals were killed across South Africa between February and October 2021. Many of the victims were beaten or stabbed to death, and as noted above it appears that they were targeted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s fifth periodic report on South Africa, issued on November 15, 2021,[1] the Committee repeatedly expressed grave concern about the “particularly high levels of gender-based violence of women and girls facing intersecting forms of discrimination [including] LBTI women.”[2] In particular, the Committee noted with concern information received on the situation of women and girls facing intersecting forms of discrimination, including LBTI women and the lack of disaggregated data on measures taken by the state to comply with its due diligence obligation to prevent and protect these women from gender-based violence.[3]

Given these grave concerns, we respectfully request information regarding the steps that have been taken to investigate and prosecute the killings of LGBTI individuals in 2021. We have included a list of the 20 people killed in the Annex below.

We would also be grateful if you could share implementation plans regarding the following recommendations issued by the CEDAW Committee:[4]

  • Raise awareness of women’s human rights among traditional and community leaders and the general public, with the active participation of LBT women;
  • Ensure systematic training for judges, prosecutors, police officers and other law enforcement officers on the strict application of criminal law provisions on gender-based violence against women and gender-sensitive investigation and interrogation procedures, and create an enabling environment for women and girls to report gender-based violence by addressing the stigmatization of victims, discriminatory stereotypes and judicial gender bias;
  • Ensure that allegations of gender-based violence against women facing intersecting forms of discrimination are promptly investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and adequately punished, and that survivors have access to victim support services and adequate reparations; and
  • Provide information in South Africa’s next periodic report on the situation of women facing intersecting forms of discrimination, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons, migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women, women living with HIV/AIDS, women with disabilities and women with albinism, and on measures taken to address such discrimination.

We would also be most grateful to receive a response to our letter dated August 21, 2021, attached for ease of reference, and an update on the development of the National Intervention Strategy for the LGBTI Sector, to which we contributed through a formal submission and participation in NTT meetings. This information, Honourable Deputy Minister, will enable Human Rights Watch to support advocacy interventions undertaken by civil society organisations in South Africa.


Graeme Reid

Director, LGBT Rights Program


Annex: LGBTI Individuals Killed in South Africa in 2021

Kindly see details of the known victims below, as documented by journalists/activists from MambaOnline:[5]

  • Bonang Gaelae, 29, whose throat was slashed in Sebokeng on February 12, 2021.
  • Nonhlanhla Kunene, 37, whose body was found half naked in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg on March 5, 2021.
  • Sphamandla Khoza, 34, who was beaten, stabbed and had his throat slit on March 29, 2021 in Kwamashu, Durban.
  • Nathaniel ‘Spokgoane’ Mbele, who was stabbed in the chest in Tshirela, Vanderbijlpark on April 2, 2021.
  • Khulekani Gomazi, 27, who was beaten to death on April 3, 2021 in Mpophomeni in KwaZulu-Natal after being accused of sexual assault.
  • Andile ‘Lulu’ Nthuthela, 41, whose mutilated and burned body was found on April 10, 2021 in KwaNobuhle, Kariega.
  • Lonwabo Jack, a young gay man who had just celebrated his 22nd birthday on April 17, 2021. His lifeless body was found lying on the street the next day in Nyanga, Cape Town.
  • Lucky Kleinboy Motshabi, 30, whose body was found in a field in the town of Dennilton, Limpopo on April 24, 2021. He was naked with stab wounds on his body.
  • Phelokazi Mqathana, 24, who was stabbed to death on the weekend of beginning May 1, 2021 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. It was reported that a man stabbed her after she rejected his advances.
  • Lindokuhle Mapu, 23, who was stabbed to death in Mfuleni, outside of Cape Town, on May 9, 2021.
  • Aubrey Boshoga, 48, whose body was dumped outside his house in Johannesburg on  May 29, 2021.
  • Masixole Level, 28, whose body was found on a street in Kwazakhele, in the Eastern Cape, on June 6, 2021.
  • Anele Bhengu, 28, whose stabbed and mutilated body was discovered in KwaMakhutha, KwaZulu-Natal, on June 13, 2021.
  • Lulama Mvandaba, who died days after being beaten outside a bar in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape in June 2021.
  • The body believed to be that of gay man Sam Mbatha was discovered in his burnt-out car in Klipgat in the North West province on June 17, 2021.
  • Motse Moeketsi, 36, whose body was discovered in Freedom Park in Gauteng after he was reported missing on June 18, 2021.
  • Sheila Lebelo, a 33-year-old lesbian who was killed in Atteridgeville, outside of Pretoria, in June 2021.
  • Thapelo Sehata, 23, who died in hospital in August 2021 following an assault in the town of Senwabarwana in Limpopo.
  • Sisanda Gumede, a 28-year-old lesbian, who was stabbed to death in KwaZulu-Natal on September 26, 2021.
  • Zimasile Zubair Shabangu, 35, who was stabbed to death in the early hours of October 4, 2021 at another person’s home in Northriding, Johannesburg.

[2] Ibid para 9(d) and para 23 (a)

[3] Ibid para 59

[4] Ibid paras 10(a), (b) and para 59 (a) and (b)

[5] Supra note 1

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