28-Year-Old South African Transgender Activist Who Won Historic 2017 Discrimination Lawsuit Found Dead In Her Home
"Every day the threat of violence looms over queer people like a persistent dark loud," LGBTQ advocacy group Iranti said in wake of Nare Mphela's death.
South African transgender activist Nare Mphela, who won a historic lawsuit in 2017, was reportedly found dead on Sunday with her body decomposing in her home.
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According to Times Live, neighbors notified the police after noticing a bad odor coming from the house.
"The deceased was found with multiple stab wounds and was already in a state of decomposition," police said in a statement.
Mphela's boyfriend was taken in for questioning, but police said they haven't made any arrests so far.
"We are investigating whether there was an intruder in that particular house," police told Newzroom Afrika. "We have only taken in the boyfriend because he was a close companion."
Police in Limpopo are investigating the murder of transgender activist, Nare Mphela, who won a landmark case against the Department of Education in 2017. Nare Mphela's decomposing body was found in her rented room in Sekgakgapheng Village, outside Mokopane in Limpopo on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/a6tsYCeY8u
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) January 10, 2020
Police added that they don't know the motive for the attack.
According to the Daily Maverick, the 28-year-old activist won a discrimination lawsuit in 2017 after bringing accusations against her high school principal, who reportedly provoked Mphela's friends to harass her in the bathroom and check her crotch to "find out what is there."
South African LGBTQ advocacy group Iranti expressed its sentiments on Twitter after the death of the activist. The group said Mphela will be remembered for the work she has done as an activist and for her "landmark case that would have real and positive influence on transgender persons seeking a safe educational environment."
1/3 Iranti is devastated to share news of the murder of trans activist, Nare Mphela whose body was found on Sunday, 5 January 2020. Nare will affectionately be remembered and celebrated for the work she has done as an activist. In 2014 she took her principal and the Limpopo pic.twitter.com/0pbz8J1zCH— Iranti (@irantiorg) January 8, 2020
2/3 Department of Basic Education to the Equality Court for discriminating against her gender identity and expression. In 2017 she won this landmark case that would have real and positive influence on Transgender persons seeking a safe educational environment.— Iranti (@irantiorg) January 8, 2020
In an interview with Times Live, South African Human Rights Commission manager Victor Mavhidula said Mphela's case marked the first discrimination lawsuit tackled by his office.
3/3 As a friend and comrade of Iranti, she was loved for her humour and unwavering resilience. Iranti will be attending the funeral which will take place this Saturday, 11 January 2020.— Iranti (@irantiorg) January 8, 2020
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“Working with Nare was very rewarding, even for my office," Mavhidula told Times Live. "It is a very big loss because Nare was a strong-willed person who was no pushover. Her contribution in the community was always visible.”
Iranti said gender-based violence continues to increase in South Africa. One lesbian woman was murdered in November when she went out to buy cigarettes, the group said. Another woman was reportedly killed and mutilated a few days later near a school.
STATEMENT: GENDER BASED VIOLENCE CONTINUES INTO 2020— Iranti (@irantiorg) January 9, 2020
Iranti mourns the murders of three queer womxn pic.twitter.com/KwdIDYdweB
The advocacy group added that there is an urgent need for "interventions regarding the livelihoods of LGBTQI+ persons and of the importance of affirming queer life through consistent engagement with the state, civil society, the private sector and members of the public."
"Every day the threat of violence looms over queer people like a persistent dark loud," Iranti stated. "It is disheartening that the new decade opened with these tragedies."