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? ðŸ’”ðŸ’” #NoluvoSwelindawo
â€” AthaBeyonce (@Athabzz) December 5, 2016
Luzuko Mnukwa, Swelindawoâ€™s friend and fellow member of Sikhumbule Safe Space, had no doubt in their mind that Swelindawo was murdered because she was a lesbian.
â€œNoluvo 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,â€ 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.
â€œThey are known in the community… what Iâ€™ve heard is that they ran away. Those people who have supposedly done this, they are well known thugs and gangsters in the community,â€ said Mnukwa.
Everyone knows who did it except the cops. Homophobia is more than the hate crime. It’s the refusal to investigate. #NoluvoSwelindawo
â€” 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.
â€œCircumstances surrounding this incident are under investigation. No one has been arrested at this stage,â€ she said.
She isn’t just a statistic.
More needs to be done.#noluvoswelindawo
â€” 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.
â€œWe grew up here; weâ€™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 weâ€™re very shaken,â€ said Mnukwa.
Swelindawo is survived by her family and a partner.
â€” . (@KumkaniSiwisa) December 5, 2016
Rwexana also appealed to anyone with information that can assist with the investigation to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.