A team of 15 lesbian, transgender, and gender-queer persons will be at the starting line of the 10km race of the Mandela Marathon in Howick on 28 August in an effort to raise funds for Iranti-Org and draw attention to the high levels of violence against lesbian, transgender, intersex, and gender-queer persons in Africa.
For those unfamiliar with the non- profit organisation, Iranti-Org is based in Johannesburg and produces documentaries and podcasts about the lives of people whose biology, identity, and/or gender expression differ from the dominant gender-binary, heterosexual norm. Despite the existence of a Government Task Team on Hate Crimes, the incidence of assault, rape and murder has increased. The low rate of prosecution and convictions show that homophobia and transphobia are rife at all levels of society.
Crimes of hate
A recent example of this was the murder of 16-year old Lesley Makousa. The teenager was a gay Grade 10 learner at Promosa Secondary School, whose deserted body was found in a nearby field of Promosa, in the North West Province.
It was reported that Lesley had been strangled with a shoelace and there are rising concerns that the murder was an anti-LGBT hate crime.
Speaking about the incident, Mpho Buntse, Chairperson of the North West K9 LGBTI group, told Mambaonline that he believes this was a hate crime.
“The victim was openly gay. It is very indicative of a hate crime,” said Buntse.
This is just one of many local attacks but sadly many incidents go unreported. It is an issue that needs to be adressed, which is why spreading awareness on the topic is so important.
Laid to rest
Iranti attended Lesley’s memorial service, which was hosted by Promosa Secondary School. There was a high attendance from bereaved family, school mates and the broader community of Promosa. Lesley’s teacher spoke highly of them and expressed a deep regret that they had passed on so soon.
Show your support
There are many ways community members can get involved and show their support. Donations can be made to Iranti via their website or you can show your support to the team of runners, either on social media using #RunForIranti, or physically backing them up at the start and finish of the Mandela Marathon.
Power through music
This video speaks volumes