A young Nyanga woman has been shot dead in her home in front of her mother and niece – because she was a lesbian, a gender group believes.
Phumeza Nkolonzi was shot three times by a gunman who kicked down the door to her Mau Mau, Nyanga, home and, without saying a word, fired at her on Saturday evening. She was 22 and open about being lesbian. The gunman is not known to the family.
The motive remains unclear, but lesbian and gang lobby group Free Gender believes Nkolonzi was shot because she was a lesbian.
Solly Nkolonzi said the family were trying to figure out why his sister was killed.
“We hope someone will come forward with information,” he said.
“We don’t know why Phumeza was killed. She was not a naughty child. She was a lesbian, but she never did any wrong things.”
Solly said his sister had returned home shortly after 8pm on Saturday. Her mother and six-year-old niece were watching television.
Soon afterwards, the gunman kicked down the door and opened fire at Phumeza. Solly said the man had not said anything.
“My mother told us when the man shot her, Phumeza asked him what she had done, but he shot her again and then a third time. For someone to shoot someone in front of their own mother and six-year-old niece is ruthless. They are both shaken by the incident,” said Solly.
He said the gunman took his sister’s cellphone and left.
Free Gender chairwoman Funeka Soldaat said members of the group had known Phumeza casually after meeting her at the funeral of Nontsikelelo Tyatyeka, the lesbian whose body was found hidden in a wheelie bin at her neighbour’s home in Mau Mau last year.
Soldaat believes that Phumeza’s murder was a hate crime.
“We are concerned that it is becoming a norm for lesbians to be attacked in that area,” she said.
“It is the same neighbourhood where Nontsikelelo was murdered because she was a lesbian.
“It seems like some people in that community don’t want to tolerate lesbians.
“It is scary to see young people being killed brutally because others are simply not comfortable with their sexual orientation.”