The partially clothed body of Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's acclaimed Banyana Banyana national female football squad, was found in a creek in a park in Kwa Thema, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Simelane had been gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. As well as being one of South Africa's best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema.
Her brutal murder took place last April, and since then a tide of violence against lesbians in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterised by what they call "corrective rape" committed by men behind the guise of trying to "cure" lesbians of their sexual orientation.
Now, a report by the international NGO ActionAid, backed by the South African Human Rights Commission, condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.
The report calls for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognise hate crimes, including corrective rape, as a separate crime category. It argues this will force police to take action over the rising violence and ensure the resources and support is provided to those trying to bring perpetrators to justice.
The ferocity and brutality of Simelane's murder sent shockwaves through Kwa Thema, where she was much known and loved for bringing sports fame to the sprawling township.
The Guardian talked to lesbians in townships in Johannesburg and Cape Town who said they were being deliberately targeted for rape and that the threat of violence had become an everyday ordeal.
"Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I'll become a girl," said Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, Johannesburg. "When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street."
According to the BBC World Service piece, black lesbians in particular are targeted. Both the BBC World Service and Guardian pieces have candid interviews with South African men who casually/humorously discuss raping women, how they justify their actions, the violent socialization of masculinity that leads to this patriarchal phenomenon, and the lack of response by South African authorities -- lack of response by bystanders/general public, police, and up through the courts (i.e., radical criminology). See also here.