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Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Communications to and from Governments, A/HRC/4/34/Add.1, March 19, 2007: South Africa

Letter of Allegation

631. By letter dated on 28 February 2006, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences has sent a letter of allegation concerning the murder of Z.N., a 19 year old lesbian woman, outside her house in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

632. According to information received, on 4 February 2006, Z.N. and a lesbian friend, age 17, were approached by a woman who taunted them about their sexual orientation, saying that they “wanted to get raped.” The woman gathered a group of about 20 young men and boys who then attacked the two women. Z.N. was beaten, stoned and stabbed to death. Her friend managed to escape. Fearing for her life, she is currently under the protection of a non-governmental organization.

633. The police have since identified and arrested six of the alleged perpetrators, aged 17-19 years. Reportedly, however, no official has publicly condemned the incident as a hate crime. The Special Rapporteur was informed that this case does not constitute an isolated incident and that lesbian women face an increased risk of becoming victims of violence, especially rape, because of widely held prejudices and myths. Some parts of the population believe, for instance, that lesbian women would change their sexual orientation if they are raped by a man.


634. The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government, while formally acknowledging receipt of her communication, has not yet provided a substantive response to the allegations.

Link to full text of the report: Communications-SR Violence against women-2007-eng