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Hate killings of black lesbians in South Africa

- Nechama Brodie

“We only write about them when they are dead."

This extract from the book ‘Femicide in South Africa’ (Kwela) by Dr Nechama Brodie, Lecturer in the Wits School of Journalism and Media Studies, has been published by the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism:

“In the 1980s, the country’s ongoing rape crisis had started to take on chilling new aspects, including gang rapes that became known as “jackrolling”. Jackrolling initially involved the selection and abduction of a victim, usually a woman who (her attackers believed) presented herself as if she was “better than them” and “out of reach”. There were echoes of these sentiments in the growing number of stories that began to emerge during the 1990s of black lesbian women being targeted, being beaten and raped by men, supposedly as a means of “teaching them how to be proper women”. This gradually became referred to as “curative” or “corrective” rape.”

“In 2006, not coincidentally the same year of Jacob Zuma’s rape trial, and the year when the National Assembly passed a law recognising same-sex marriage, local newspapers started reporting on murders where black lesbians had been being targeted and killed by groups of men. 

In February 2006, 19-year-old openly lesbian soccer player Zoliswa Nkonyana was at a shebeen in Khayelitsha with another lesbian friend of hers when a group of straight girls taunted them for being tomboys. Zoliswa apparently replied, “We are not tomboys, we are lesbians. We are just doing our thing so leave us alone.”

One of the (straight) women went and summoned a group of men, who pursued Zoliswa and her friend across a field, eventually catching up with Zoliswa (the friend managed to get away) before pelting her with bricks and beating her with a golf club until she died. It would take nearly six years and some 60 court appearances before four of the nine men eventually charged with her killing would be found guilty."

Read the full extract on


'Femicide in South Africa' by Nechama Brodie