Upington Transgender Woman Murdered in Suspected Hate Crime


Jo-Ann Isaks’ body was found by a family member in her burning room (Photo: Supplied)

The LGBTIQ+ community in the Northern Cape has been shaken by the brutal murder of a 27-year-old transgender woman, Jo-Ann Isaks.

Police revealed that the victim, who they identified as Jonathan Isaks, was found in a burning room on the night of Wednesday, 14 May in the Upington township of Paballelo.

It is understood that a family member noticed the flames coming from Isaks’ room at around 23:00 and went to investigate. While trying to extinguish the blaze, they found her lifeless body, which had already caught fire.

“It was further discovered that the body had multiple stab wounds on the upper body,” said Sgt Omphile Masegela from the ZF Mgcawu District Municipality, who confirmed that a murder case had been opened.

“There have been no arrests at this stage, and the investigation is at a critical stage. The police are following all leads and information received,” she said.

Left With So Many Questions

When pressed on a possible motive, Sgt Masegela responded that “the motive of the murder forms part of the police investigation.”

Jenny Sambok, district leader of the LGBTIQ+ community in the ZF Mgcawu region, told MambaOnline: “The sector is devastated. We are left with so many questions.

“We are aware that there’s too much discrimination in the area where this incident happened. The stigma in our communities is still very huge. They still treat us as if it is a choice that we have to be LGBTIQ+,” said Sambok.

Northern Cape LGBTIQ+ group D’Gayle Diamonds condemned Jo-Ann Isaks’ murder as a “tragic loss that has sent shockwaves through our communities.”

The organisation said: “The circumstances surrounding her death are not only heartbreaking but also a stark reminder of the violence and discrimination that queer individuals continue to face in our society.

“It is unacceptable that individuals are targeted and subjected to such heinous acts simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” asserted the group.

A Possible Hate Crime

D’Gayle Diamonds called on the police to ensure a thorough investigation to ensure that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.

The authorities, it said, must consider the possibility that Isaks’ murder “may have been a hate crime motivated by prejudice” against her identity as a queer individual.

Anyone who has any information that can assist Investigating Officer Sergeant Mavimbela in the case can contact them on 082 469 5824. All information will be treated confidentially.

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