FORMER South African female soccer star Eudy Simelane, who was gang raped and murdered last year because of her sexual orientation, was honoured posthumously with a commemorative miniature bridge unveiled in KwaThema, Springs, on the East Rand on Saturday.
Slain lesbian ‘knew one of accused well’
The young midfielder’s body was found in an open field with 27 stab wounds in the chest, face and legs.
The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project said they decided to build the miniature bridge where her body was found, as a reminder of "the right to freedom, dignity and equality for all."
The Project’s spokesman Balise Mahlangu said the commemorative structure was aimed at changing negative perception about gays and lesbians.
"She was a fierce equality campaigner and one of few people in KwaThema who openly lived as a lesbian," she said.
She said Simelane’s killing was part of what was known in the townships as "corrective rape" carried out by men under the guise of trying to cure lesbians of their sexual orientation.
One of the four suspects in the Simelane murder pleaded guilty in the Delmas High Court in February and was sentenced to 31 years imprisonment. The case against the other three men, who pleaded not guilty, is scheduled to resume at the same court in July.
“No one should be killed for his or her sexual orientation. The structure will be constant reminder to the people that everyone has a right," Mahlangu said.
Research by Triangle, a leading Southern African gay rights organisation, focusing on the Western Cape townships revealed that black lesbians were living in fear of sexual assault with 10 new cases of "corrective rape" reported every week in areas such as Langa, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu.
In February last year, gay rights activist and coordinator for Positive Women’s Network, Sizakele Sigasa and her friend Salome Masoa, were tortured and shot dead execution-style in Meadowlands, Soweto. No arrests have been made to date.