VAAL LGBTI PRIDE AFFECTED
BY POOR SAFETY
by Nerina Penzhorn
Vaal LGBT banner at Vaal Pride 2015
South Africa, 11 September 2015
The Vaal LGBTI community celebrated their third annual Pride parade on Saturday, September 5, 2015. The event included a march through the streets of Boipatong, moving performances to commemorate the victims and survivors of hate crimes and an after-march gathering with entertainment at Boipatong stadium.
After the event, the 200 or so participants headed to an after party at Havana Club. The pride organisers had met with the manager of the club twice before the event. The manager had agreed that Vaal LGBT group could rent the venue exclusively for the evening. He promised to hire security and a DJ — costs that would be covered by a R20 cover charge at the gate. This was the first time that they used this venue. The owner of the club that they used in previous years had died so they had to find a new venue for this year's event.
When the LGBTI group arrived at the venue, however, they found that one of the bouncers was letting in men that they did not know. Once inside the venue, the group of men used homophobic slurs, threatened the Pride participants with knives and bottles and stole their cell phones and money. The pride organizers witnessed two cases of assault. One person was slapped and another one stabbed with a bottle. "The manager did not protect us even when we went to him for help. Instead of him helping us he let those guys do what they did to us," says Kegomodicoe Mocoancoeng about one of the organizers. The manager didn’t expel the men, but called the police who came much later and did not help much. They did not arrest anyone and did not try to expel the group of men.
According to Ajax Azania Sengwayo, the programme coordinator of Vaal LGBTI, the "organization is taking legal action against the owner of Havana and are trying to get information on people who were hurt at the venue". Vaal LGBTI needs more information to make their case to the police and have scheduled a meeting for Sunday to gather more facts on what happened and who was hurt.
Vaal LGBTI have consulted with the National Task Team (NTT), as well as the Rapid Response Team, and are waiting to hear back from them about what legal action can be taken. The Rapid Response Team was created to help victims of gender-orientation-based violations access the justice system.