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Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of the right to freedom of opinion: Summary of cases, A/HRC/17/27/Add.1, 27 May 2011: South Africa

South Africa 

Allegation letter 

2012. On 14 January 2011, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, sent an allegation letter concerning the situation of Ms. Millicent Gaika, a woman who was allegedly beaten and raped by a man who intended to “cure” her from her sexual orientation, and Ms. Ndumie Funda, a local community activist supporting victims of “corrective” rape.

2013. According to the information received, Ms. Gaika, a lesbian woman, and her friends were walking home when Mr. Andile Ngoza, a man she had known for a number of years and who had never objected to her sexuality before, asked her for a cigarette. She stayed to smoke with him, and followed him into his room when he refused to pass the cigarette to her. The man then locked the door and started hitting her while she tried to fight back. Ms. Gaika was strangled with a wire, tortured and raped for five hours by Mr. Ngoza who intended to “turn her straight”.

2014. Since this incident took place, the court-case addressing it has reportedly been postponed numerous times, last time to February 2011, and Mr. Ngoza is currently out on bail, roaming the same streets where Ms. Gaika lives. This has forced Ms. Gaika to go into hiding for fear of her safety.

2015. Ms. Ndumie Funda, a local community activist reached out to Ms. Gaika through a small local charity she set up in the Cape Town township of Gugulethu to rescue and support survivors of “corrective” rape. She is currently covering and supporting the criminal proceedings of Ms. Gaika. Although Mr. Ngoza is forbidden to enter Gugulethu as part of his bail conditions, he has reportedly broken those conditions constantly and threatened Ms. Funda various times.

2016. Since his release he has allegedly asked family and friends to attack Ms. Funda, constantly harassed her and made threats against her life and against her partner. This has forced Ms. Funda to go into hiding as well, which has prevented her from carrying out the assistance work she provides to other women victims of violence.

2017. Serious concern was expressed about the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Gaika and Ms. Funda. Further concern was expressed that these attacks do not constitute isolated incidents and that lesbian women in South Africa face an increased risk of becoming victims of violence, especially rape, because of widely held prejudices and myths that maintain they would change their sexual orientation if they are raped by a man. Furthermore, concern was expressed over increasing reports that hate crimes against lesbians are not being recognized or punished by the South African legal system.


2018. The Special Rapporteur regrets that at the time of the finalization of this report, the Government had not transmitted a response to his communication of 14 January 2011. He urges the Government to respond to the concerns raised by him, and to provide detailed information regarding investigations undertaken, subsequent prosecutions as well as protective measures taken.

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