Killers Loose

Gay-Targeted Murder Spree Feared After Eighth Victim Falls in South Africa

Johannesburg theater manager Rulov Senekal last weekend became the eighth victim in a two-year string of unsolved murders in South Africa, all involving gay men who were killed within their own homes, with no signs of forced entry.

Two men were seen entering Senekal’s apartment building on Saturday evening, only to emerge half an hour later with Senekal’s laptop and a large black plastic bag. On Sunday, a concerned neighbor entered Senekal’s apartment with the help of building security, where they found him bound and murdered.

In the past two years, seven other men in the Johannesburg-Pretoria area have lost their lives in similar fashions, most recently former South African TV host and HIV/AIDS activist Jason Wessenaar in December. Many of the men apparently met their attackers online or through cell phone apps.

Dawie Nel, director of South African LGBT rights group OUT, has decried the slow efforts of local police to apprehend the killers in this gay-targeted murder string. Officials have thus far refused to concede that the killings are connected.

“We fear that someone is preying on gay men, and the authorities appear unwilling to acknowledge this,” Nell said in January after Wessenaar’s death. “There is a perception that there is a lack of interest in the cases, in part due to the sexual orientation of the victims.”

Nel has said that OUT is in discussions with pro bono lawyers who may be able to help pressure authorities into action on the cases.

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