Patricia Nell Warren

Live Blog from South African Murder Trial

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | February 13, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Eudy Simelane murder, lesbian soccer player

Here's an update just emailed from Human Rights Watch on the trial of soccer player Eudy Simelane's alleged murderers in South Africa. Internet wizardry makes it possible for Americans to track the trial via a live blog from the town where it's taking place. HRW's message:


On April 28, 2008, Eudy Simelane, 31 years old, was gang-raped and brutally murdered in her home township, Kwa-Thema, near Johannesburg in South AFrica. The apparent motive for her killing was that she was a lesbian who fought back "like a man."

Despite its strong constitution and human rights protections, South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. In the crisis of sexual assault, women who are identified as lesbians or who don't conform to cultural or social norms for what women "should look like" or how women "should act" have also been targeted, with brutal consequences.

Dipika Nath, researcher for HRW's LGBT Rights Division, is attending the trial of Eudy's alleged killers in Delmas from February 11-14. Activists from across South Africa are joining Eudy's family and friends to draw a nation's attention to violence against lesbians. Nath will be blogging from the trial daily, with photos and stories.

South Africa's Joint Working Group is also blogging from the trial.

I have yet to get any notices from LGBT organizations about this. Can it be that they are not very interested in this trial?

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 13, 2009 9:46 PM

It would be interesting if Desmond Tutu got involved in this. He is strangely silent isn't he? In googling "Desmond Tutu Simelane rape" I find just one article where she is even mentioned, and then just in passing. With his great moral authority, where is he?


I haven't had a chance to follow this; how's it going?

As it turns out, this trial was just for the one man of the four, Mphiti, who pleaded guilty. The other three, who are pleading not guilty, will be tried in July. In South Africa, trials are run differently than here.

Yesterday the judge did a lenthy summing-up, and proceeded to verdict and sentencing.

Since the South African constitution guarantees protection for all, including sexual orientation, there is no concept of categorized "hate crimes" there. So the judge's position was that Simelane's sexual orientation had no formal bearing on the crime. This was a big disappointment to the assembled activists.

However, the judge did declare Mphiti guilty and sentenced him to 31 years.

The trial's final day is covered in the HRW blog, for those who want to read it.

I'd like to point out that four Lesbians in the metro NYC area who were harrassed by a male, had a lit cigarette thrown at them and who were threatened with rape and who "fought back" successfully were sent to jail by the system as a deterrent to Lesbians doing just that.

Though not murdered, being sent to jail forneutralising the threat of a man who indicated his desire to rape and assault them is way overboard.....and this happened in the US...

Maura, are there any online links where I can find the details on this shocking case?