Justice dept dealing with 42 cases of hate crime

The task team, which includes civil society organisations and police, said it had been tracking pending cases in the criminal justice system involving crimes committed against queer people and the broader community.

FILE: Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Justice said it was currently dealing with 42 cases of hate crime.

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery met with the national task team on the rights of LGBTIQ+ persons on Thursday to get a better understanding of why there seemed to be a spike in hate crimes aimed at the community.

The task team, which includes civil society organisations and police, said it had been tracking pending cases in the criminal justice system involving crimes committed against queer people and the broader community.

Of the 42 pending cases, 30 people were murdered while 12 were raped with the majority of the crimes taking place in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Anele Bhengu was found disemboweled near Durban in a suspected hate crime last month. She is one of more than a dozen victims of such crimes in South Africa since last year.

“Out of the 42 pending hate crimes cases, approximately 29 cases were reported from 2020 to date. Of these 29 hate crimes, 16 are on the court roll with remand dates with the remaining 13 cases under investigations. It must be highlighted that the cases on the template are being actively monitored with government departments, the National Prosecuting Authority and civil society to ensure that these cases are thoroughly investigated, and prosecutions follow,” Jeffrey explained.

The number of deaths has continued to increase as the implementation of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill drags.

The bill was approved by Cabinet in 2018, that same year it was taken to Parliament where it has been gathering dust for three years.

Civil society organisations say while South Africa was the first country in Africa, and fifth in the world, to legalise same-sex marriage, homophobic murders remain shockingly prevalent.

South African National Aids Council deputy chairperson Steve Letsike said even as pride month came to a close, gay people still found themselves the victims of bigoted speech and hate crimes while dozens felll victim to senseless killings because of government’s inaction.

“I think what is key and what has been the most paining issues, has been implementation – moving from talk to action. Ultimately, it’s not just about responding to LGBTIQ+ challenges, but to prevent these barbaric acts and hold those who perpetrate them accountable.”

Letsike said the police had also played a role in perpetuating discrimination against the broader gay and lesbian communities.

“I think what is painful and what we want to see as the most effective way is the role of SAPS. It needs to bring back confidence into the LGBTI+ community. We’ve seen various secondary discrimination happening and that needs to be addressed.”

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