While there is uncertainty whether a 23-year-old man, who was murdered in Seoding near Kuruman, was decapitated, the Gay and Lesbian Organisation in the Northern Cape (Legbo) has now claimed that he was also mutilated.
Legbo director, Shaine Griqua, on Wednesday said that well-placed sources within the police had confirmed that his tongue and genitals were removed
“It is worse that we initially thought. Part of his testicles and penis were cut out and stuffed into his mouth. I tried to speak to the forensic doctor, who was not able to elaborate. The police are refusing to admit that this is a hate crime.”
He added that he would view the body in the mortuary on Thursday to ascertain the exact nature of the injuries inflicted.
“According to our information, his neck is only attached to his head by a piece of skin connected to his throat.”
Griqua alleged that Thapelo Makutle was killed following an argument over whether he was a transsexual or gay. His attackers apparently followed him home and killed him.
He was last seen leaving the Chesa-Nyama Tavern during the early hours of Saturday morning, although he did not tell his friends, who assumed that he had gone home to sleep.
His body was found by a friend the following morning covered by a blanket, to make it appear as if he was asleep.
Griqua said the march that was planned for Friday had been cancelled due to logistical reasons.
“An awareness campaign against hate crimes, in the form of a memorial service for Makutle, will instead be held at the St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral on the corner of Voortrekker Street and Federal Mynbou in Kuruman at 3pm on Friday. We expect about a thousand people to attend.
“Legbo has contributed R10 000 towards the awareness campaign while the Provincial Director General’s Office has contributed anther R10 000 towards the funeral, catering and transport.”
A Legbo member in Kuruman and friend of Makutle, Keletile Mabilo, said the entire gay, lesbian and transgender community was now living in fear following the brutal killing.
“I was attacked because of my sexuality in February this year during which I was bitten on my left cheek. I stay in the village where my door does not lock properly and I am afraid of going to the college where I am a student. The Kuruman community is not very tolerant of gay, lesbian and transgender people although there are about a hundred of us living here.
“We need visible policing and a satellite police station set up in rural areas such as Bankhara and the Seoding village where these crimes are common.”
The police on Wednesday denied that the victim was decapitated.
Spokeswoman for the Kuruman police, Constable Ntombi Manie, stated that his head was still attached to his body.
“He died as a result of a large slit to the throat. The police are following up on possible leads although no arrests have been made yet.”
She believed that the rumours regarding the beheading could have originated from members of the public who had seen the body prior to the arrival of the police.
Lebogang Ronny Makutle said his family was shocked at his brother’s death.
“I did not have the strength to look at all his wounds but I did see him. His body was intact. It appears as if a sharp, heavy object that was much bigger than a knife, was used to cut his throat. We are worried because the killers have not been apprehended yet. We want answers.”
Makutle said that Thapelo was close to his three brothers. “My mother and grandmother are devastated. He was a people’s person.”
Cosatu’s provincial secretary, Anele Gxoyiya, will attend the funeral on Saturday in the Bendelle village at 7am.
He expressed his shock and sadness over the killing of a young person “for being gay”.
“We join Legbo in condemning this brutal attack on a young, brilliant and educated soul whose head was chopped off in a hate crime.
“Our deepest and sincere condolences go to his family and the community of Kuruman for this monstrous behaviour. We call on the police in Kuruman not to rest until the perpetrators are brought to book.
“People should not be prejudiced on the basis of their sexual orientation and beliefs.”
Gxoyiya stated that Cosatu would develop a programme of action regarding hate crimes at a meeting today.
Director General of the Nothern Cape, Justice Bekebeke, said the provincial government will assist the family with the costs of the funeral.
“There are no words for this barbaric crime. It has affected us emotionally. It is unthinkable for another human being to go to such extremes to commit such a crime.”
MEC for afety and Liaison, Patrick Mabilo, expressed his horror at the tragedy.
“It is inhuman to behead someone and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”
He vowed that the police would “follow up on all leads and hunt down” the perpetrators.
“There is no justification for this savage act. We regret what has happened and extend our sympathy to friends and colleagues.”
Mabilo called upon religious leaders to intervene.
Sandi Kwon Hoo