Troubling. That’s the adjective we’d use to describe news that two South African gay activists, 34-year old Sizakele Sigasa (pictured) and 23-year old Salome Masooa have been murdered.
The women’s battered, bullet-ridden bodies were found just a few feet from their car on Sunday, when they left a Johannesburg township party to walk someone home. When they failed to return to the party, their friends went looking. Unfortunately, they went looking too late.
Police are chalking the crime up to a robbery, rape scenario, but gay activists see more malicious motivations: lesbophobia.
Treatment Action Campaign told the press, “This appears to have been a hate crime, committed by people who are intolerant of women and lesbians.” The Joint Working Group turned it up a notch with a harshly worded statement calling for more public opposition to anti-gay actions:
Gays and lesbians are human beings who deserve equal rights and treatment – not to be ridiculed or called names, beaten, tortured, raped or killed. These gross human rights violations are not just inhuman and barbaric – they must not be tolerated.
Violence against lesbians and gays is unSouth African. Here, oppression and discrimination have no place, still there are parents who reject or kick children out to the streets; siblings, friends and communities who hurt, beat, rape, torture and even kill lesbians and gays. If they survive all this, they face further victimisation at in the hands of the police and even the courts THIS IS NOT JUSTICE AT ALL. People who inflict harm upon and even kill lesbians and gays (or anyone else) do not belong in South Africa. Leaders and communities that do not oppose violence against gays, lesbians, women, children, rape survivors and HIV+ people do not belong here.
A personal friend, meanwhile, issued a call to gays, insisting they must do all they can to raise awareness of Sigasa and Masooa’s murder:
As a community what we need to do now is to mobilize ourselves… We must take it upon ourselves not to remain quiet in our grief in South Africa.
No doubt that’s what the women would have wanted.
Sigasa’s mother described her daughter, who worked Soweto HIV/AIDS Counselors Association and Positive Women Network, as her “only hope”. Hopefully South Africans of every ilk will heed JWG’s call to ensure Sigasa and Masooa didn’t die in vain.
[Apologies for the grainy, distorted image of Masooa. It's the only one we could find and we thought it best to include it, even if it does induce a slight case of vertigo.]