Outrage as Aubrey Boshoga's killing suspected to be another LGBTQI+ hate crime

Activists and allies of the LGBTQI+ community have condemned this incident which comes just a few weeks after the total tally of murdered LGBTI persons this year rose to 10.

Aubrey Boshoga, artist and socialite, was stabbed multiple times outside his Johannesburg home at the weekend in a suspected hate crime. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The body count of slain members of the LGBTQI+ community is still rising. In another suspected hate crime, artist and socialite Aubrey Boshogo was stabbed multiple times outside his home over the weekend in Observatory in Johannesburg.

There’s been outrage on and off social media about his murder, with moving tributes from people who encountered Boshogo. Some of the people who knew him said the 48-year-old was looking forward to going back to his job as a flight attendant at SAA.

Aubrey's sister, Josephine Boshoga, confirmed his death to Eyewitness News on Monday morning. She said CCTV footage recovered showed a car dropping off his body outside his yard.

"In the early hours of the morning, it's quite dark. But at six o' clock you can see a white car dropping my brother's lifeless body, so I think he died in the early hours, around midnight. And people started seeing his body at 6am [on Saturday morning]," she told Eyewitness News through tears.

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Activists and allies of the LGBTQI+ community condemned the killing on Monday morning, which comes just a few weeks after the tally of murdered LGBTQI+ people this year had risen to 10. And these are just the murders we know of.

READ MORE: How delays in passing the hate crimes bill affects the LGBTQI+ community

“We do call on the South African Department of Justice to step up and protect LGBTI persons. We do not need any more death, these unnecessary deaths. Hate crime legislation needs to be made into law. Communities need to change their attitude and behaviour towards LGBTI persons, but most importantly, justice must be served. And it is discouraging, as many of us as LGBTI organisations and as activists. We continue to work, but also we continue to live in fear," said Steve Letsike who is executive director of Access Chapter 2. The organisation works to on human rights issues for LGBTQI people, women and girls in South Africa and is named after Chapter 2 of the Constitution.

In August last year, Police Commissioner Khehla Sithole said they would look into creating a category that dealt only with hate crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community.

An advocate to head up the national task team for the protection and promotion for the LGBTQI+ community has been appointed. This comes after queer activists protested at Parliament to demand government's intervention after the recent spike in homophobic killings in the country.

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola told Eyewitness News that his department had put new plans in place to address the concerns of the queer community. Advocate Ooshara Sewpaul, who has been working with the department, was reassigned to head up the task team.

But activists like Kamva Gwana, with the group Hashtag Queer Lives Matter, were sceptical - this is not the first time they'd heard promises of action from government.

"Our government has chosen to put our community on mute, has chosen to put the LGBTIQ community and the lives of these people on mute," Gwana said.

Back in 2014, government published a comprehensive national strategy, including multiple action points and timelines.

But to date, almost none of those plans have been implemented, a fact that Lamola said they were now trying to rectify.

Government explained to Eyewitness News last week its delay in passing the Hate Crimes Bill into an act.

Lamola said the hold-up was with a pending Constitutional Court judgment but insisted that government was ready to act. This key piece of legislation could help properly punish those who commit hate crimes but is yet to be passed three years down the line.

The Hate Crimes Bill would properly categorise crime committed on the basis of hatred. The portfolio committee issued a statement over the weekend, saying that Parliament had to wait for the outcome of a Constitutional Court case to proceed with passing the new law. The passing of that law would properly categorise hate crimes, allowing the justice system to deal with perpetrators and allowing authorities to specifically track the phenomenon and tailor the interventions.

In March, 34-year-old Siphamandla Khoza from KwaZulu-Natal. Khoza had been drinking with neighbours in Ntuzuma before he was attacked and humiliated for his sexuality. He was found in a ditch with his throat slit.

The body of 40-year-old Andile "Lulu" Ntuthela was found in a shallow grave in the backyard of his murder-accused in April.

That has done little to ease the anxieties in the LGBTQI+ community, with many saying they lived in fear.

Thami Dish, the founder of the country's LGBTQI+ Feather Awards, said government needed to be inclusive in its messaging about marginalised and vulnerable people.

“I think it's sad that we find ourselves here. Especially given the fact that we've been engaging with government for some time to fast track the Hate Crimes Bill. And, you know, we see a lot of campaigns being done. Government campaigns on GBV, on bullying, anti bullying campaigns, but we don't see an inclusion of the LGBTI community in the communication. So, what we actually require is more of the anti-hate crimes campaign," he said.

Executive director and founder of Queerwell medical centres, Dr Dulcy Rakumakoe, said Boshoga’s death showed that no one in the LGBTQI+ community was safe.

"We are deeply saddened by the senseless death of Aubrey Boshoga known to many as “Ma se kind” to LGBTI people. In this country we feel under attack, we are not safe. Our lives are in danger. People are being killed, people are being attacked, you know, in our communities," she said.

Details of Boshoga’s burial will be communicated during this week.

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