On Sunday morning, the body of 22-year-old LGBTQ activist Noluvo Swelindawo was found near the N2 highway in Driftsands, a community near Khayelitsha. She had been shot in an alleged hate crime.
Swelindawo was well-known in her community as a lesbian activist, part of the Sikhumbule Safe Space group, which holds awareness campaigns, workshops in schools and marches on homosexuality, transgenderism and gender-based matters.
We fail Black lesbians every single day with our silence. How many more lives must be lost? 💔💔 #NoluvoSwelindawo
— AthaBeyonce (@Athabzz) December 5, 2016
Luzuko Mnukwa, Swelindawo’s friend and fellow member of Sikhumbule Safe Space, had no doubt in their mind that Swelindawo was murdered because she was a lesbian.
“Noluvo was a very active member even though she also worked. [The community] was very much aware that she was a lesbian activist – everybody knew. I would say she was targeted, because they went to her house and took her from there,” Mnukwa told The Daily Vox.
Mnukwa stated that the community believed they knew who the culprits were, but would not be prepared to confirm anything until the investigation is over.
“They are known in the community… what I’ve heard is that they ran away. Those people who have supposedly done this, they are well known thugs and gangsters in the community,” said Mnukwa.
Everyone knows who did it except the cops. Homophobia is more than the hate crime. It’s the refusal to investigate. #NoluvoSwelindawo
— Cuban Spirit (@Sisonkemsimang) December 5, 2016
Spokesperson for the Western Cape police, sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed that she sustained a gunshot wound to her body.
“Circumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation. No one has been arrested at this stage,” she said.
She isn’t just a statistic.
More needs to be done.#noluvoswelindawo
— Palesa Kgasane. (@palesakgasane) December 5, 2016
While gender-based violence is not new to the Western Cape, Mnukwa said it was the first incident of an LGBTQ individual being murdered in Driftsands and that is was a shock to the community.
“We grew up here; we’ve always felt safe and even when we hosted events and our awareness campaigns, people came to support us in big numbers. There was never sense of threat – so we’re very shaken,” said Mnukwa.
Swelindawo is survived by her family and a partner.
— . (@KumkaniSiwisa) December 5, 2016
Rwexana also appealed to anyone with information that can assist with the investigation to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.