SOUTH AFRICA FORUM FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY (SAFIS) STATEMENT OF SOLIDARITY, 18 JULY 2012

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ACT TO END HATE CRIMES TARGETING LGBT PEOPLE, NON-NATIONALS AND OTHER MARGINALISED PEOPLE IN SOUTH AFRICA!

South Africa Forum for International Solidarity (SAFIS) takes the occasion of Mandela Day 2012 to remind our government, politicians of all parties, religious and community leaders that the South Africa we fought for and envisaged through our 1994 democratic transition was one where tolerance of difference and equality of all was fundamental to the transformation of the country from its racist, patriarchal past.

The country’s constitution adopted in 1996 prohibited many forms of discrimination including that based on gender, sex and sexual orientation. Various legislative instruments such as the Equality Act of 2000, the Civil Union Act of 2006 further affirmed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT)’s equal rights and status in South African society. In 2011, South Africa further successfully championed the first ever United Nations resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity at the Human Rights Council, risking the ire of its many of its peer states globally who oppose the equality of LGBT people.

It is therefore a tragic contradiction that in 2012 South Africa, LGBT people are living under conditions of terror where homophobic violence including harassment, rape and murder are on the increase. The South Africa Forum for International Solidarity (SAFIS) voices its grave disappointment at the continuing failure of the Government to prevent these attacks.

Further we are concerned by the  complicit silence of senior government officials amid this wave of violent attacks targeting the LGBTI community as well as non-nationals in our country.

In the last two months alone, a series of gruesome murders of LGBT people have been reported including those of Thapelo Makutle, a 23 year old Gay man from Kuruman, Phumeza Nkolonzi shot three times in front of her family in Nyanga, Cape Town ,  Andritha Morifi, a young Lesbian woman in Limpopo who was killed in the most brutal manner, Neil Daniels, a Transgender in Cape Town and Sanna Supa, a Lesbian woman from Braamfischer Soweto was shot dead in her home.  This last weekend, Vuyisa Dayisi, 28 was found dead on neighbour’s front door steps under very questionable circumstances. These are only the reported cases. Several reports including by Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and others have further documented deep-seated prejudice in South African communities as well as state failure to actively protect and promote the rights of LGBT people. The trend of public leaders including the Zulu King Godwill Zwelithini, Phathekile Holomisa  Member of Parliament charged with chairing the Constitutional Review Committee, some religious leaders fuelling the hate of LGBT people through their public utterances without any censorship from the government is on the rise.

The last two weeks have also seen large scale attacks on non-national businesses. In Botshabelo in the Free State it is reported that more than 700 shops and businesses were looted and/or destroyed displacing 500 people mainly from the Ethiopian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities. In and around Cape Town UNHCR initial figures reported that 29 spaza shops were attacked displacing around 70 people, mostly Somalis and Bangladeshis.  In Mitchells Plain’s Beacon Valley section alone, four shops in one street were attacked on one night, 11 July, by masked men hurling petrol bombs.

We support the call by the LGBT community to progressive forces in South Africa and the world to pressurise the South African government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to take action that sends a message that intolerance and prejudice of any kind is not accepted in SA.

Recognition of hate crimes and the adoption of measures to tackle these crimes will serve as a safety-net to protect all in South Africa so that our diverse features such as race, religion, nationality, language group, sexual orientation etc. are not used as the basis to discriminate, attack people and divide communities.

SAFIS will join the march to the ANC headquarters urging the party to publicly condemn the atrocities against the LGBT community in line with its ideal of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa on July 18th as well all subsequent actions geared towards mobilising societal and government action to end this carnage.  

SAFIS is a coalition of organisations and individuals working for a new, democratic and just world order where equality of nations and people, freedom from poverty and hunger, environmental justice, and solidarity are the principal interests driving international relations. We are global citizens in South Africa, and stand with people all over the world who strive for these ideals.

Contacts:

Roshan Dadoo: 072 2000 383

Mandeep Tiwana: 071 4698121

Corlett Letlojane: 082 574 7773

Sipho Mthathi: 071 6358668

         

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