* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.Source: Association for Women’s Rights in Development May 3, 2011 Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC), the key LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) organization in the township of Kwa-Thema, Gauteng, South Africa, and the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) condemn the brutal rape and murder, in cold blood, of a member of EPOC. Noxola Nogwaza is believed to have been murdered in the early hours of Sunday, April 24, 2011. The body of Noxola Nogwaza, a 24-year-old lesbian, was found lying in an alley in Kwa-Thema at about 9am on Sunday, April 24 2011. Noxola’s head was completely deformed, her eyes out of the sockets, her brain spilt, teeth scattered all around and face crashed beyond recognition. Witnesses say that an empty beer bottle and a used condom were stuck up her genitals. Parts of the rest of her body had been stabbed with glass. A large pavement brick that is believed to have been used to crash her head was found by her side. Noxola was raped and murdered in a similar manner as that in which another member of EPOC was murdered almost three years ago (April 28, 2008). Eudy Simelane’s body was also found in an open field in Kwa-Thema. It was clear that she had been raped and murdered afterwards, crimes that the perpetrators confessed to. Just last year, a gay man in the same township was attacked by eight men, who attempted to rape him. Luckily, he escaped the vultures. The men, as they attempted to rape him, were heard saying, “We are determined to kill all gay people in this area and we will do it.” “It is very clear that these rapists are on a mission. We will however not rest until justice prevails. Eudy’s case was not recognized as a hate crime against a lesbian and the same is not done in the cases of many other people who have been raped and/or murdered on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in South Africa. EPOC is determined to get to the bottom of the Noxola case and push for justice. It was definitely a hate crime.” said Ntsupe, Chairperson of EPOC. “I am so disturbed by this horrific action. It is the responsibility of the South African Government to protect all its citizens. Hate crimes against LGBT people in this country are on the rise and the government should come out openly against these actions. Protection of individuals who are vulnerable because of their sexual orientation and or gender identity is something provided for in the Constitution of South Africa and should be put in practice. As a regional advocacy organization, CAL will work with EPOC and others to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.”, Victor Mukasa, Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders Project at CAL. EPOC and CAL call on the Tsakane Police Station, where the case has been reported, to carry out a quick and thorough investigation into the murder of Noxolo and deal with the perpetrators accordingly.