South Africa: Statement by Paula Ettelbrick on the killing of Former Banyana Banyana Soccer Player Eudy Simelane

IGLHRC learned with shock and outrage of yet another attack on a South African woman by a group of men, apparently as a result of her sexual orientation. As evidence that homophobia is no respecter of persons, this time the victim was a well know figure in South Africa, former Banyana Banyana soccer player Eudy Simelane. From Joburg to Brooklyn, from Khayalestha to Kampala, Black lesbians are unsafe in their own homes and in their own communities. This has got to stop. We challenge the South African government to get real about the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Constittion, guaranteed in the International Covenenant on Civil and Political Rights, and clarified in the Yogyakarta Principles. We ask the leaders of South Africa to challenge these unbridled attacks publicly and righteously. Here and now.

KWA-THEMA COMMUNITY DECRIES THE RAPE AND MURDER OF EUDY

Five young men have been arrested in connection with the rape and brutal murder of Eudy Simelane (31), a former Banyana-Banyana soccer player, and an out lesbian. Her body was found stabbed and mutilated in an open field in Tornado - one of the sections in the Kwa-Thema township, on Monday the 28 April.

Her murder is another incident in a growing spate of similar rapes and murders targeted at black lesbians in the last few years, including those of, Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Moosa, in Johannesburg last July, and that of Zoliswa Nkonyane in February 2008 in Cape Town.

An enraged community gathered at the Kwa-Thema Methodist Church to mourn the loss of a cherished daughter, a friend, an ardent soccer lover, a SAFA referee, and an unrelenting activist. Speaking at the memorial Lindi Lasindwa, Member of Parliament, pleaded with the community not to allow itself to be cowered into silence, and urged them to join forces and raise their collective voice on behalf of a vocal Simelane, who now was no longer able to speak for herself.

The women of Tornado, determined to reclaim Kwa-Thema as a safe space for all its residents, are at the forefront of action to pressure the State for the conviction, prosecution and appropriate sentencing of the suspects. Led by Ntombi Mekgwe, Office of the Speaker of Ekurhuleni, the women drafted and delivered a petition calling for the denial of bail for the suspects.

Members of the 777 Campaign To End Hate against lesbians and gay people are calling for everyone to join in the struggle to eliminate violence against women, lesbians, and the gay the community.

The more than 300 community members, who attended the memorial service committed to support the bereaved family, mobilise for the bail hearing scheduled for the 5th May 2007 from 09h00 at the Springs Magistrate Court.

The case opened at the Kwa-Thema police station is handled by Station Commander Manyathela, and investigating officer Morema.

Eudy Simelane will be laid to rest on Sunday the 4th May 2008. The funeral service will take place at the Kwa-Thema Community Hall from 8:00am and will leave for the Brakpan cemetery at 10h00.

Enquiries can be directed to:

- Brother: Kevin Simelane 082 632 1657
- Kwa-Thema Lesbian and Gay Forum: Nonhlanhla Zwane 073 057 0465
- Lesbian and Gay Equality Project / 777 Campaign: Phumi Mtetwa 072 795 9194
- Station Commander investigating case 689/04/2008: Mr. Manyathela 082 461 3680