‘Accept gays, lesbians’
Johannesburg – Murdered lesbian footballer Eudy Simelane had a right to life and her sexual orientation should not have been the reason for her death, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) said on Friday.
"Simelane’s death should be a lesson to all who are spiteful to others’ sexual and gender identity to rise above their stereotyping and be accommodative," the commission said.
"People should begin to accept gays and lesbians as part of our broader society and not to infringe on their rights as it seems to be the norm presently."
The commission was reacting to the life sentence handed to Simelane’s killer on Tuesday.
The circuit court sitting in Delmas court sentenced the man to life for the 31-year-old’s murder, 20 years for being an accomplice to rape and 15 years for robbery.
Two other accused men were acquitted. The attack on the Banyana Banyana player, whose body was found in an open field in KwaThema township, took place in April 2008.
Simelane was gang-raped and then stabbed to death.
Themba Mvubu’s conviction follows a 32 year sentence handed down in February to another man who pleaded guilty to murder, robbery and being an accomplice to rape – but he later retracted statements implicating the other three.
Simelane’s sexuality was ruled out in the first sentencing as a motive in her killing but activists have linked the case to "corrective rape" in which lesbians are targets of sexual violence.
"The CGE wants to applaud the judge in giving out the stiffest sentence to the perpetrators as a way of sending a strong message to society that such cannot be tolerated," the commission said.
It hoped the sentence would give Simelane’s family a chance to "heal in peace".
"The CGE condemns hate crimes against lesbians and gays as this is not only out of line with Constitution but … robs them of their humanity…"