PHELOKAZI Ndlwana, a 24-year-old woman from South Africa, was stabbed to death in a township near Cape Town earlier this week in a suspected hate crime.
Ndlwana, an aspiring young chef who lived her life openly as a lesbian, is the latest in a string of brutal attacks on members of the LGBTQ community.
According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of South Africa, she was murdered in the Khayelitsha township on Sunday.
Ndlwana was hanging out with friends at a bar near her house. She went outside and told them that she would return shortly. She never came back and her friends called the police.
When investigators arrived at the scene, they were directed ‘to the body of a female who succumbed to death of what appeared to be stab wounds to the chest area,’ police spokesperson Andrè Traut said, according to South African-based site News24.
Her cousin, Thembalakhe Balele, said that some friends claimed that they saw a suspect carrying a knife.
On Monday, Western Cape police arrested a 39-year-old man in connection with the crime.
While her death hasn’t been officially ruled as a hate crime, her family believes she was killed because of her sexual orientation.
‘She never started fights with people and was loved by many. We believe this must have been a hate crime and call for justice,’ Balele said.
The founder and spokesperson of the Khulani Khayelitsha Queer Hub, Sibusiso Nqunqeka, told News24 that, ‘There is no support system for the LGBTQIA+ community in the township.’
‘Most of the hate crime perpetrators are people who aren’t educated about the dynamics of our community,’ he added.
Ndlwana’s murder comes amid an increase in violent deaths of LGBTQ people in the country.
Just a day earlier, the local LGBTQ community held a funeral for Lonwabo Jack, a gay man who was on his way home from celebrating his 22nd birthday when he was raped and murdered in his Western Cape neighborhood.
On April 2, the body of Nathaniel Mbele was found near the city of Vanderbijlpark, about 40 miles south of Johannesburg. He had been stabbed to death.
Later that month, the body of Andile ‘Lulu’ Ntuthela, a 40-year-old gay man, was discovered in a shallow grave near his alleged killer’s front door in Eastern Cape, a province in the country’s southeast coast.
Just before that, the body of Sphamandla Khoza, 34, was found in a ditch near his home.
‘He had been stabbed multiple times following an alcohol-induced attack apparently over his sexuality,’ according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation.