|Barney van Heerden|
From The Star:
FOUR violent murders in which gay men were bound and strangled to death have police and forensic specialists investigating the possibility that a serial killer, or homophobic group, is stalking Joburg’s gay community.Today the The Star reported on an additional murder with similar features.
All of the victims, discovered in the past 10 months, were found tied up and strangled inside private homes within the greater Joburg area – with police recording no signs of forced entry.
Police working on all four cases believe the minimal theft means robbery was not a motive. It is believed the lack of break-ins may mean the victims knew their would-be killers and could actually have invited them in.
The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19. The murder was discovered by security guards, after they noticed his car gate was open and his front door unlocked.
Police believe Van Heerden may have known his attacker or attackers, as half-full glasses of wine were found on the kitchen table. Since the incident was reported, distraught relatives, friends and other members of the gay community have come forward, describing other recent violent crimes that seemed similar.
Three of these reported murders bear striking similarities to Van Heerden’s case.
South Africa's Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) issued a statement yesterday condemning the police and the Department of Justice for not doing enough to solve these murders and others.
The Commission for Gender Commission (CGE) strongly condemns the unfortunate killings of Gays and Lesbians in Johannesburg and elsewhere in the country. As enshrined in our Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered and intersexed people (LGBTI) have the same rights just like everyone else. The continual hatred and killings of LGBTI people is violation of founding provision of the South African Constitution which are equality and human dignity. Such horrendous deeds are not only meant to rob society and the families of good people who do not deserves to go through these gruesome acts but shows that some in our society are very intolerant and unable to appreciate the diverse society that we live in.The South African Department of Justice task force began work in August to combat violent hate crimes against LGBTI South Africans and includes six people representing the judiciary, police and department of social development and six representatives from the LGBTI community.
The continued use of culture in order to disguise for criminal intent against LGBTI people has to be strongly condemned. The Commission is also concerned about the long delays in cases relating to this issue.CGE views these acts as criminal acts and the perpetrators deserve to face the full might of the law, henceforth serve long sentence in jail if proven to have committed these atrocities.The CGE has been for years with other Chapter 9 (C9s) institutions and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) advanced the course of LGBTI people without fail.It is our firm belief that the Department of Constitutional Development and Justice have to come to party in ensuring that the plights of LGBTI people do not go unabated.
The CGE calls for all interested parties to rally around LGBTI people and help society to understand that LGBTI people are human beings who deserves respect and protection regardless of their sexual orientation. We will continue to monitor cases that involve LGBTI throughout the country.The CGE will support to the passing of hate crime legislation.
The task force was formed in response to national and international outcry about the lack of attention by the police and the Department of Justice to ending the scourge of "corrective rape."