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Gay man murdered in South Africa

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A young homosexual man has been killed and his body mutilated in South Africa, according to LEGBO, a local gay rights group.

Thapelo Makutle's body was found under a blanket with his throat cut and tongue removed, parts of his genitals had been cut off and placed in his mouth, witnesses said.

Jabu Pereira, the spokeswoman of LEGBO, said on Thursday that Makutle's body was mutilated in a way that indicates it was a hate crime, an extra charge that leads to greater punishment under the country's law.

In a statement released on Thursday, South African police said that that Makutle was found with his throat cut on Saturday in a room he rented in Kuruman, a town in the northwest.

The motive of his death is unknown and the case is being investigated as a murder, police said.

'Not fitting the norm'

Phumi Mtetwa, an activist with Fahamu, a pan-African network for social justice, said that if it was established to have been a hate crime targetting the gay community, it would be a further indictment on "the religious right, traditional leaders and local politicians who [continue to] perpetuate the idea that being gay is not African".

"Lesbians are targeted in South Africa but it would be a big mistake to ignore the number of 'feminine men' and 'transgender men' being targeted as well becaus they do not conform to the [societal] norm that is expected of them."

Pretoria News reported that it was believed that Makutle was killed over an argument as to whether he was transexual or gay and that the gay community in Kuruman were now living in fear.

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

Makutle was a leader in the local gay community. Among the activities he organised was the the Miss Gay Kuruman pageant.

Javu Baloyi, a spokesman from 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 gay people still face discrimination and violence.

The police report said Makutle was 23, while a spokeswoman for LEGBO said Makutle was 24.

A memorial service is planned for Friday afternoon in Kuruman. The local gay rights group is organising a protest before the service.


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