18 January 2016
On the 18th of December last year, in South Africa's Vaal Triangle, Motshidisi Pascalina, aged between 18 and 20, was found in an open field near her home with her body tied up, burned, and eyes, breasts and vagina viciously mutilated.
Members of the local Youth Communists League and the Vaal Triangle LGBTI community marched to the Mafatsana Police Station in Evaton North last week to demand justice for Pascalina. They handed over a memorandum to emphasise the need for police to intensify effort in their management of homophobic hate crimes.
But the thing is, Homophobic Hate Crimes is as of yet unrecognised and remain relatively unlegislated under South African law.
In response to the march, #MotshidisiPascalina trended on Twitter last week as many expressed their shock and anger at the murder as well as the gruesome details that emerged.
After the march it emerged that local police did indeed arrest four suspects in the "alleged" hatecrime but are slow in the releasing more information.
LGBT organisation OUT last year called for the urgent need for specific legislation to address hate crimes in South Africa, which they argued “warrants the attention of both government, civil society and other actors, as the ongoing violence spurred by prejudice is unlikely to abate without focused effort from all stakeholders”.
In a statement, they identified to factors that defined a hate crime. “The first is that the act is considered a crime under existing South African criminal law – such as intimidation, arson, damage to property, assault, rape or murder. The second is that the act is motivated in whole or in part by prejudice or hatred regarding an aspect of the victim’s identity – such as race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation.”
“At present there is no official monitoring of these types of crimes, with the consequence that it is left out of government statistics.”