Police in Cape Town, South Africa have arrested a suspect in connection with the brutal rape of a gay man on Saturday night.
The victim, whose name has not been released to the public to protect his identity, stopped to buy cigarettes while on a walk down Cape Town’s Church Street. A stranger across the street asked if he could share a cigarette, and the victim agreed. After walking a short distance, the stranger then grabbed the victim and forced him into some nearby bushes where he raped him.
The victim returned home crying that night, waking his children and prompting his mother to alert law enforcement.
“He happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and we fear what these incidents will do to him,” the victim’s mother told South African outlet IOL. “From what he’s telling us it seems as if the perpetrator had been planning this,” she added.
The victim’s mother goes on to say that the family knows and accepts the victim as a gay man, though the family fears for his safety in the homophobic climate of Cape Town. She also says this isn’t the first time he’s been attacked.
“He was almost raped here in Langa [a neighborhood in Cape Town] and at boarding school in Stellenbosch,” the victim’s mother says. “He once arrived here traumatized after he was attacked and almost got raped by a group of men in Stellenbosch.” She also added that he’s experienced insomnia as a result of the Saturday attack.
For the greater Cape Town community, the attack on this victim sends an ominous signal about the safety of the city, and about the nature of sex crimes in general.
“This is the first case we have dealt with and to have such cases where there are calls for the end of gender-based violence and the raping not only of women and children but everyone is upsetting,” said Anele Gqasana of Langa Community Advice Services, a legal and civil rights counseling group based in Cape Town.
At the time of this writing, police have not released the name of the suspect in the case. He remains in custody awaiting his first court appearance.
South Africa is typically labeled the most queer-friendly destination in Africa. LGBTQ people enjoy marriage equality, discrimination protections in housing and employment, adoption rights and can serve in the military. Public opinion surveys, however, paint a more complicated picture of queer acceptance in the nation. A 2015 survey revealed that though a 51% majority of respondents believed LGBTQ people should have the same rights as straight South Africans, a whopping 72% viewed homosexuality as morally wrong.