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Friday, 2 October 2009

South Africa: Kidnapped, Raped and Stabbed for being gay


By Stéphanie Plasse

The verdict is long overdue: Themba Mvubu will spend the rest of his life in prison. Accused of the abduction, rape and murder of Eudy Simelane, the young man was jailed Tuesday in South Africa. The victim, a 31 year-old professional footballer, was one of the first women to live her homosexuality openly. Some activists say she fell victim to what South Africans call a "corrective rape". In the last decade alone, some thirty lesbians have been killed under the same circumstances in the country.

Mvubu Themba, a 24 year-old man, was sentenced Tuesday to life imprisonment in South Africa. He was convicted for kidnapping, raping, and brutally murdering Eudy Simelane. The 31 year-old international footballer was one of the first women to be openly gay in her township of Kwa Thelma, close to Johannesburg. She played in the South African women’s team and later worked as coach and referee.

In April 2008, Eudy was abducted as she left a local pub. She was later raped by four men who later stabbed her 12 times. The men then dragged and dumped her lifeless body on a vacant land. Gay rights campaigners believe she was attacked because of her sexual orientation. In South Africa, some men claim women can be "cured" of their homosexuality through a practice called "corrective rape". These attacks sometimes end in murder. According to a recent report, thirty lesbians have been killed in the past decade under such horrendous circumstances.

Themba Mvubu claims his innocence

"Eudy Simelane suffered a brutal, undignified death. She was stripped naked, stabbed, assaulted, raped. What more indignity can a person endure?," said judge Ratha Mokgoathlendg of Delmas Court, where the trial took place. "The accused has shown no remorse whatsoever. He steadfastly maintains he was not to blame for the death of the deceased. That is his right. It’s painful to send a young person to jail, but if the young person behaves like an adult with criminal conduct, he cannot expect to hide behind his youthfulness." he added. Themba Mvubu is the second man charged in this case.

Earlier this year, Thato Mphithi pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Eudy Slimane. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison. The victim’s mother, Mally, does not understand this hatred. " I accepted her. I want to tell the other mothers that these are (our) children. They are not creatures, they are human beings,” Mally told AFP.

South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence in the world. Indeed, over 54 000 cases are reported to the police each year.


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