South Africa LGBTIQ+ Rights Watch: February 2024


MambaOnline and OUT LGBT Well-being publish a monthly overview of reported LGBTIQ+ rights violations in South Africa, including hate speech. We also look at the status of cases making their way through the criminal justice system. Here is our summary for February 2024.

Hate Crime Murder of Gay 21-Year-Old Diego Jacobs in Cape Town

In the lead-up to Cape Town’s Pride celebrations, South Africa’s LGBTIQ+ community was stunned by the murder of 21-year-old gay man Diego Jacobs in Delft, a township on the outskirts of the city. On February 3rd, Diego, accompanied by friends, encountered a former neighbour who had previously harassed him for his sexuality. Despite attempting to avoid conflict, Diego was fatally stabbed in the neck, allegedly with homophobic slurs uttered by the assailant, who was later arrested. Friends of Diego remembered him fondly, describing him as a loving and vibrant person. A candlelight vigil and march were organised to honour Diego’s memory and condemn LGBTIQ+ hate crimes.

Renewed Calls for President Ramaphosa to Sign Hate Crimes Bill

Following the brutal murder of 21-year-old Diego Jacobs in Cape Town, activists renewed their calls for President Ramaphosa to sign the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill into law. OUT LGBT Well-being’s Sibonelo Ncanana emphasised that the delay in enacting the bill, which was passed by Parliament in December, is concerning. Triangle Project echoed similar sentiments, stressing the importance of political will in addressing hate crimes. Both organisations urged President Ramaphosa to prioritise signing the bill to demonstrate a commitment to ending violence and intolerance.

Wits University Students Stand for Grindr Attack Victim

Wits University students from LGBTIQ+ campus group Activate Wits stood in solidarity with other LGBTIQ+ activists during court proceedings involving seven men accused of kidnapping and nearly killing a Johannesburg student lured through Grindr. This display of solidarity contrasted with the hostile demeanour of the accused, who showed no remorse for their alleged crimes. In September 2023, the suspects reportedly lured the 18-year-old victim into a fake date through Grindr, subjected him to physical beatings, and demanded ransom from his family. The incident prompted Activate Wits to intensify efforts to promote online safety awareness on campus. The case against the seven men was again postponed for further investigation.

Potch Student Suspended for Disrupting LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Orientation

In a contentious incident at North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus, final-year law student Shaun Christie faced suspension for disrupting a first-year student orientation programme that was affirming of the LGBTIQ+ community. Christie interrupted the Council-approved programme, objecting to its inclusion of LGBTIQ+ topics and claiming that beliefs were being forced upon students. The African Christian Democratic Party rallied behind Christie, denouncing the university’s actions and equating LGBTIQ+ inclusion to indoctrination. In response, LGBTIQ+ ally Tristán Kapp launched a petition urging Christie’s expulsion for his disruptive behaviour and intolerance. Despite Christie’s claims of defending freedom, the university deemed his actions disrespectful and temporarily suspended him pending investigation, affirming the importance of fostering appreciation for diversity in orientation programmes.

Residence Accused of Discriminating Against Transgender Wits Student

Activate Wits, Wits University’s LGBTIQ+ student group, lodged a formal complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) about a privately owned residence accused of discriminating against a transgender student. The student, unnamed for privacy, faced demands during check-in for written consent from her female unit mates and their parents to live with her. Despite a history of being discriminated against by male housemates, the residence even considered placing her with a male student. Activate Wits intervened, securing assistance from university offices and ultimately resolving the issue. The incident highlighted broader systemic queerphobia within the gender binary residence system, prompting Activate Wits to escalate the matter to the SAHRC.

Limpopo LGBTIQ+ Learner Bullied and Denied Education Over Gender Identity

Lucky Matlebjane, a transgender teenager in Limpopo, reportedly faced severe discrimination at Dinakanyane Secondary School, leading to her departure from school and thoughts of suicide. Matlebjane claimed to have endured constant harassment from both peers and teachers. The Limpopo Education Department responded by diminishing the extent of Matlebjane’s discrimination and insisted that she was unenrolled due to health reasons and was later reintegrated into the school without issue. The incident underscored the urgent need for inclusive policies and support mechanisms in South African schools.

Grindr Comes Face-to-Face with SA Grindr Gang Attack Survivors

Grindr for Equality executives met with survivors of the ongoing epidemic of Grindr Gang attacks in South Africa, listening to their traumatic experiences and discussing potential solutions. Survivors shared harrowing stories of being lured into fake dates, abducted, and subjected to violence, robbery, and threats. The criminals’ callousness and brazenness, along with police incompetence and indifference, were highlighted. Ideas were exchanged on enhancing user protection, including profile authentication and reporting mechanisms. Grindr acknowledged the severity of the crisis and committed to addressing the issue, promising to convey survivors’ suggestions to the company. While survivors expressed relief at being heard, some insisted that more concrete action was needed from Grindr and law enforcement to ensure user safety and hold perpetrators accountable.

Jacob Zuma Doubles Down on Election Homophobia

South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, intensified his attacks on the LGBTIQ+ community in another campaign speech, branding same-sex relationships and marriage as disgraceful. Speaking to supporters of his uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party in Maqongqo, near Pietermaritzburg on 25 February, Zuma continued to criticise Parliament for enacting laws that he claimed were not approved by the people and advocated for adherence to “African law” over “Dutch law.” He questioned the legitimacy of same-sex relationships, implying they are unAfrican and asserted that they leave women with nothing. Zuma faced backlash in January for making similar remarks on the campaign trail.

  • Have you experienced or witnessed an LGBTIQ+ rights violation such as a hate crime, hate speech or any other kind of LGBTIQ+ discrimination in South Africa? If you’d like to bring it to the attention of the LGBTIQ+ community, email
  • If you need free support to uphold your LGBTIQ+ rights, please email OUT at
  • Did you know you can lodge a complaint of unfair discrimination or hate speech (at no cost and without a lawyer), in the Equality Courts, which are located across South Africa? For more information, read OUT’s guide to using the Equality Courts.

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