by Jabu Pereira
South Africa, 24 August 2014
The marquee is down, the crowds of mourners have retreated back to their homes, and yet there is an eery presence in this tiny town. It is a presence of fear and uncertainty about the future, and the acceptance of loss. Gift will no longer walk the streets in her queer, gender-bending clothing. Popularly known as Owen to the soccer team, she will no longer arrive for football practice and matches.
There is no silence in this town. The accused in this case, known as Burkie, meaning whitey, because of his light skin, belongs to the SVAs, a gang of men that have robbed and caused turmoil in this community. There are two additional rival gangs the SVKs and the HLs. Iranti team felt this fear as the SVKs attempted to intimidate us, grabbing their crotches, rubbing it and staring at us without fear. We received a message, and we know that the attacks on Lesbians, Gay and Transgender persons are not over, in fact, the attacks have just begun to surface.
Our work has only begun in Ventersdorp, we must return to ensure that as a collective, we can build a vibrant LGBTI movement in Ventersdorp, that security measures are put in place, that government must work with the community to ensure effective services such as visible policing, effective lighting at night and youth programmes that build positive self-esteem.
Click here to see the photo essay about LGBTI activism in Ventersdorp during the past week.