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South African Gay And Transgender Beauty Pageant Winner, Killed In Alleged Hate Crime

Thapelo Makutle, 23, was found dead in his room and the NGO said he was beheaded

     Mystery continues to swirl over the grisly death of a South African man who identified as both gay and transgender.

     Mambaonline reports that Thapelo Makutle, who hailed from South Africa's remote Northern Cape province, was killed after getting into an argument with two unidentified men over his sexuality. He is described in that report as a 23-year-old man who identified as both gay and transgender, and who had recently won the Miss Gay pageant in the small town of Kuruman. In addition, Makutle also reportedly worked as a volunteer for LEGBO Northern Cape, a local gay advocacy group, and is also believed to have participated in the Kimberley Out In Africa Gay and Lesbian Festival.

     "It's so sad. I can't describe the pain that we are feeling right now," Shaine Griqua, the Legbo Northern Cape director, told Mambaonline. Griqua, who serves as director of LEGBO Northern Cape, had previously described Makutle, who performed as a drag queen known as Queen Bling, as a "well-mannered and principled human being."

     "We have lost a young, talented, gay man who was open about who he was," Grigua added. "The last few days have been like a dark cloud."

     Griqua also told Mambaonline that, contrary to varying reports, Makutle was not actually beheaded, but that confusion around the state of the body likely stemmed instead from miscommunication. Still, Grigua believes it was a hate crime, though area police have yet to confirm this.

     "Witnesses told us that on Friday night two heterosexual men had an argument with Thapelo because of his sexual orientation,” Griqua told News24 about the alleged murder. "They followed him home and beheaded him on his bed. Although they are known to some, they remain at large."

     South African lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist Junior Mayema from People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty, a non-governmental organization based in Cape Town, is quoted by Pink News as saying, "Hate crime is widespread in the townships and beyond. It is inflamed by religious groups and ignorance about South Africa’s constitution. In addition the police have little or no training on hate crime which leads to many cases being either not investigated or ignored."

     Lindiwe Mazibuko, Democratic Alliance Parliamentary Leader in South Africa, echoed those sentiments in a statement published by Politics Web. "This violent and gruesome assault is yet another reminder that many of our country’s people are still denied the basic rights and freedoms which our constitution enshrines," Mazibuko said. "There is a spate of homophobic hate crimes which have recently taken place across our country, including the repugnant and unconscionable crime of so-called 'corrective rape' committed against lesbian South African women."

SOURCE: The Huffington Post, 6/13/2012


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