“I still remember it like it was yesterday”, said Nosipho, a 17 year old young girl, who had been beaten and tortured to death because of her sexuality by a group of villagers who lived not too far from her village .
I was walking down the street holding hands with my girlfriend Namhla, we were happy, it was just after school, and we were discussing how we were going to spend our weekend. She was my first girlfriend so I had to make her happy, Nosipho said. On our way from school, we were closer to her house than mine, which was a few kilometres away from hers we stopped to do that old fashioned thing of kissing each other goodbye. Just like any one who had just fallen in love we were shy around each other. Eventually we got closer to each other (mmm… her warm arms). That moment our shyness just faded away as our lips slowly approaching each other, the moment our lips collided I couldn’t let her go. Wow what a divine kiss, I have never been to paradise, till our first kiss.
We were in paradise, I wanted to stop so she could go, but her juicy lips said otherwise. Her arms were like magnets around me. Even though I could hear that there was an unusually uproar coming towards us we couldn’t let go of each other. The noise got louder and louder, it was a group of villagers singing “Babulaleni! Babulaleni! Bazizinja!” which means (“Kill them! Kill them! They are dogs”). At that moment we were still attached to one another, it never clicked in my mind that these villagers were singing about us -and that their riot was against who we were (lesbians). The realisation only hit me when they threw a big stone against my head. Then they began beating us with sticks, stones and their boots, they were stepping on us and kicking us.
Three weeks later, I woke up in hospital with tubes all over me, I couldn’t see clearly and I couldn’t walk or hear well. I was doing almost everything through tubes, urinating through tubes, because I was beaten to death and had been in a coma for three weeks. The person who was sitting next to me and holding my hand in hospital was my mother. At first I couldn’t recognise her, she was praying and crying. I was in shock, I tried opening my mouth but it was difficult and painful -I couldn’t talk. I wanted to scream but my entire face was bandaged, I couldn’t scream.
I was in pain, crying and asking myself what happened to me, my mind was totally blank. I couldn’t remembering anything until the fourth day when I woke up from a coma in hospital, my mother told me that Namhla had passed away the day we were attacked by the villagers. And that her family was busy preparing her funeral.
The moment my mother mentioned Namhla’s name, everything just came back to me, I remembered everything. Even though I couldn’t speak at that time, I cried and cried, the bandages on my face were wet and the doctor had to change them. The thought of losing a lover, not just a lover but a future because of who I am, was very hard and painful.
Namhla was dead! I had lost the one person I love and her parents had lost a daughter. Namhla was a beautiful little girl who grew up in Cape Town, where both her parents were based due to work. Namhla failed grade 9 in Cape Town that’s why her parents decided to send her to her grandmother in the rural lands. She was a proud lesbian girl who was never interested in boys. Namhla was a target because of her gender and for what her big brother Lwandile.
Lwandile impregnated a girl of a nearby family and denied the baby was his. So, that family wanted their son Vuyani to fall in love with Namhla, impregnated her and deny the baby (as her brother had done) to avenge their daughter. Unfortunately, that didn’t work, since Namhla wasn’t interested in boys. The villagers said that their excuse for what they did to us, was that, what we were doing was wrong, immoral and unacceptable. Because of who she was Namhla was brutally murdered and I Nosipho was left paralysed.