Tragic Crime: Transgendered, Miss Gay Pageant Winner Mutilated and Brutally Murdered

June 14, 2012  |  

South Africa’s constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and the only nation in Africa to allow same-sex marriage, but clearly hate doesn’t consult the law. In the same town where 24-year-old Thapelo Makutle recently won a “Miss Gay” pageant, he was murdered and mutilated in what most are calling a hate crime.

The Associated Press reports:

Thapelo Makutle was found with his throat cut Saturday morning in a room he rented in Kuruman, a town in northwestern South Africa, police said in a statement. The motive of his death is unknown and the case is being investigated as a murder, police said.

However, Jabu Pereira, the spokeswoman of the local gay rights group LEGBO, said Thursday that the perpetrators didn’t steal anything from Makutle and his body was mutilated in a way that indicates it was a hate crime, an extra charge that leads to greater punishment. Makutle’s body was found under a blanket with his throat cut and tongue removed, Pereira said. His genitals were also cut off and put in his mouth, witnesses told Pereira.

“The community is in a state of trauma, they are shocked,” Pereira said. “The community gathered last night and we just stood with the family.”

Makutle was a leader in the local gay community, Pereira said. Among other things, she said, he organized the Miss Gay Kuruman pageant.

Javu Baloyi, spokesman of the Commission for Gender Equality, condemned the killing.

“It was such a barbaric act,” said Baloyi, whose government agency promotes the rights of gays, lesbians and other South Africans.

South Africa’s constitution bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but gays here still face discrimination and violence.

The Global Post also reported that Shaine Griqua, director of LEGBO Northern Cape, said in a statement that two men followed Makutle back to his rented room, broke down the door and attacked him. Griqua said Makutle’s throat was so badly slit, it was near decapitation. This happened supposedly after getting into an argument with the men over his sexual orientation.

It’s odd that the police aren’t willing to call this a hate crime when the supporting evidence seems clear, but maybe they know (or don’t know) something that isn’t being reported. Regardless, this is a tragedy that can’t be condoned. What makes a person believe they have the right to take another person’s life simply because he or she lives a homosexual lifestyle? It is absolutely senseless.  Our hearts goes out to the victim’s family in this case and we’re hoping they find the killers who are, apparently, still at large.

Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink.

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