South African police have reported no progress in the investigation into last weekend's gruesome murder of a young LGBT activist. The body of 23-year-old Thapelo Makutle—who "identified as gay and transgender"—was discovered Saturday in their home near Kuruman, Northern Cape province. Makutle's throat was slashed and the head was "nearly severed."
Makutle reportedly was harassed by two men on the previous evening at a local pub. "The motive at this stage is unknown. No arrests have been made. Investigations are continuing," police spokeswoman Ntombi Manie said in a statement quoted by AFP.
The Lesbian and Gay Organisation in the Northern Cape says he was mutilated. Legbo director Shaine Griqua said well-placed sources in the police had confirmed that Thapelo Makutle’s tongue and genitals had been removed. "Part of his testicles and penis were cut off and stuffed into his mouth. I tried to speak to the forensic doctor, who was not able to elaborate." ...
Keletile Mabilo, a Legbo member in Kuruman and a friend of Makutle, said the gay, lesbian and transgender community was living in fear. "I was attacked because of my sexuality in February this year… I was bitten on my left cheek," Mabilo said. "I stay in the village where my door does not lock properly and I am afraid of going to the college where I am a student. The Kuruman community is not very tolerant of gay, lesbian and transgender people, although there are about 100 of us here."
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. SA is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality and gay adoption.
Despite these protections, the reality is much different for many Black LGBT South Africans. Life in the impoverished townships is far less tolerant. Lesbians, gay men and transgender men and women are often targeted by violent attacks. There are reports of an escalation in violence and so-called "corrective rape" targeting lesbians, reports NPR.
Also: An apparent serial killer has been targeting gay men around Johannesburg. At least eight gay men have been killed during the two year killing spree in Gauteng Province. An arrest was made in March but the investigation has stalled.
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