Twenty-three year-old Lunga Voko was beaten with fists, bricks, an iron rod, and had a part of his ear shot off by a group of men all because he was gay. This occurred in Cape Town, South Africa, an African country noted for being one of the only ones in which being gay is legal. This terrible attack occurred on 31st March which was Easter Sunday. Coincidentally this was also his birthday.
The attack began when the men, who were in a vehicle, began taunting him, asking him why he was gay or a moffie (South African slang for a boy who dresses like a girl) because of the shorts he was wearing to which he did not respond. Suddenly the men got down, one slapped him, another began to beat him with an iron rod while the others gathered half-bricks. Voko passed out after receiving a blow to the head but witnesses say the men pulled out his penis to check whether or not he was circumcised, meaning that he had ‘climbed the mountain and become a man’ – a controversial Xhosa rite of passage in which young men are shaved, climb a mountain and live in isolation in a hut built by their families for several weeks. During this period, a surgeon comes and circumcises them and they are not to return until the procedure has healed.
Discovering that Voko had been circumcised and therefore considered a man, the attackers were enraged and continued to beat him until one of them pulled out a gun and shot him, taking off a part of his ear. He woke up in the hospital the day after, and reported the incident to the police who are currently investigating the case. Apparently the vehicle has been identified but no arrests have been made. The victim said that he has been taunted and verbally assaulted many times but this is the first time he has ever been physically assaulted because of his sexuality and he now fears for his safety as a gay man, a sensation he had previously never experienced.
Phumla Williams, the Acting Cabinet spokesperson denounced the violent act saying: “Government condemns in the strongest terms possible and reiterates its commitment to fight all forms of hate crimes perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and inter-sex people in South Africa.”
It is quite interesting to note that in this same country, a couple had a traditional wedding recently with the full blessing of their friends and family who were in attendance.
I hope he recovers swiftly and that the attackers are paid back for this crime in kind.