Police in South Africa have arrested a man in connection with the brutal April 15 murder of a gay professor at the University of Johannesburg, reports SA's Eyewitness News. Authorities suspect this may be the ninth victim claimed by a gang of serial killers who have targeted gay men around Johannesburg and Cape Town over the past three years.
Professor Carl Mischke was found murdered in his Norwood home in northern Johannesburg on Monday morning. Officials said the suspect was apprehended in Kempton Park on Gauteng’s East Rand. According to police, the 29-year-old suspect was found in possession of Mischke's clothing.
Police told Eyewitness News they were probing the links between Mischke’s death and the murders of eight other gay men. Police spokesperson Neville Malila said the suspect was in custody at the Norwood police station. He said they were still looking for one more suspect.
All of the victims were discovered bound, strangled or stabbed with no signs of forced entry. Most victims had online dating profiles. And at least five of the killed gay men were Black, according to photos published in The Star. After previously denying that a serial killer was on the loose, authorities disclosed in November 2012 that "four of the victims appeared to have been murdered by the same person."
Mischke lived several blocks away from another victim, Barney van Heerden, who was killed in September 2011. Police made three arrests in November 2011 and a September 30 trial date was announced this week, reports Melanie Nathan at O-Blog-Dee-O-Blog-Da. Another suspect connected to the September 2011 murder of Siphiwe Nhlapo was arrested in March 2012.
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.
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