Landmark case in South Africa: Men jailed for murdering woman based on sexual orientation

A landmark case was decided in South Africa today when four men were sentenced to 18 years in prison for murdering a woman who lived openly as a lesbian, according to MSNBC.

Nineteen-year-old Zoliswa Nkonyana was stabbed and stoned to death over six years ago by nine men.  Five of them were acquitted, and four-Mbulelo Dama, Lubabalo Ntlabathi, Sicelo Mase and Luyanda Londzi,- who were juveniles when the murder happened, were convicted last year.

In the article, Marlow Newman-Valentine, deputy director of Triangle Project, said “it is the first case in South Africa where sexual orientation and identity was named and recognized as an aggravating factor in a murder trial.”

According to the article, “South Africa’s constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual preference but homophobia is rife in the country. In addition, the country’s female homicide rate six times the world average, according to a June-2011 study in The British Journal of Criminology.”

This is a huge milestone for post-apartheid South Africa, and I am happy strides have been made to eradicate the discrimination against LGBT people.  However, the fight is not over; there is a long way to go.

It is not only South Africa that has a long way to go, but the world.  Around the world LGBT are persecuted for being themselves, and this needs to end.

Governments need to take a stand because it is not enough to just implement laws.  Laws need to be enforced and actions need to be taken in order to change the hearts and minds of people.

So, while I congratulate South Africa for this milestone, I also want to caution them because the battle has just begun.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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2 Responses to Landmark case in South Africa: Men jailed for murdering woman based on sexual orientation

  1. Pingback: South Africa might eliminate gay rights | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: The “Corrective Rape” of Lesbians | honeyimalesbian

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