There is an excellent update to a case that R20 has followed in South Africa. Four men have been sentenced for the brutal February 2006 murder of 19-year lesbian activist Zoliswa Nkonyana in Cape Town. Nkonyana was beaten, kicked, stabbed and stoned to death by a gang of youth in a township.
The four men were convicted of murder in October. This week each defendant was sentenced to 18 years in prison, reports BBC. The harsh sentences have established a precedent and cast a spotlight on South Africa's culture of homophobic crimes.
The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says the sentence handed out in the Nkonyana case is highly significant - both because of its length and the fact that the magistrate concluded that Ms Nkonyana was killed for being a lesbian.
For years activists have been calling on the state to be tougher on people who kill or attack people because of their sexual orientation - and they want the state to recognise hate crimes against lesbians, she says. [...] The magistrate said it was clear the motive for the killing was hatred and homophobia - and Wednesday's sentence was meant to send out a signal that violence based on sexual orientation will not be tolerated, the South African Press Association reports.
Nine men originally were arrested for the murder. Three were acquitted and two were released due to lack of evidence.
Despite being the only African nation where same-sex marriage is legal—and boasting the world's only constitution where equality in sexual orientation is specified—the reality is much different for many Black LGBT South Africans. Life in the impoverished townships is far less tolerant.
South Africa boasts the world's highest rates of crime rates and rape. Brutal so-called "corrective rape" and murder are increasing against lesbians in the townships, as well as rape and attacks against gay men. Police are often criticized for ignoring the attacks or poor detective work. In May 2011, the RSA government announced that it would establish a task force to address the escalating incidents of anti-LGBT attacks in its nation.
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