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South African Woman Claims She Was Beaten for Kissing Girlfriend

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Jul 31, 2012
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A 29-year-old woman from South Africa says she was brutally attacked at her work after she kissed her girlfriend, the South African online website, Independent Online reported.

Bonisiwe Mtshali was allegedly beaten to the point of unconsciousness by three security guards because she is a lesbian at the Carlton Centre, a skyscraper shopping mall located in downtown Johannesburg.

Mtshali kissed her girlfriend, Khanyish Ndoda, 21, goodbye before going to work.

"I accompany her to work every morning," Ndoda said. "And every morning I give her a goodbye kiss. But as we kissed that day, we heard these guys saying ’Some people will never reach heaven’ and shouting ’Voertsek’," an Afrikaans expression of dismissal or rejection.

Mtshali then confronted the group of men, who work as security guards in the Carlton Centre.

"I asked ’What did we do wrong? Why are you talking to us like that?" Mtshali said. "Then they started pulling my hair and beating me." She was then kicked, punched and pushed to the ground by the attackers. Her girlfriend was a witness to the incident.

"I was traumatized, I didn’t know what to do," Ndoda said. The website notes that a crowd gathered around the men beating Mtshali but no one broke up the attack.

"Then they took her (Mtshali) outside, onto the pavement," Ndoda said. "One of the guys said they couldn’t do everything they wanted to do inside the mall because there were cameras."

Ndoda begged the attackers to stop and said if they did anything wrong they would be fined or arrested.

While the cops beat Mtshali they compared "two girls kissing was public indecency" to the act of "urinating in the street."

Mtshali eventually collapsed and began to foam at the mouth but the guards allegedly would not allow Ndoda to take her girlfriend to a hospital. An hour after the attack, an ambulance was finally called.

When the couple talked to the Johannesburg Central police, officials advised them to "drop the charges," Ndoda said. The couple still plans to press charges.

The company the men worked for, Hlanganani Protection Services, has threatened to countersue Mtshali for allegedly scratching one of the men during the attack.

The LGBT group Forum for the Empowerment of Women is helping Mtshali with her case.

"In the past few months there have been about eight to ten murders across the country," Phindi Malaza the organization’s programs coordinator, said.

"At the end of the day, our voices must be heard. We must be respected for who we are," Ndoda said.

Although South Africa has legalized same-sex marriage since 2006 a 2011 EDGE article points out, lesbians in South Africa still face with the danger of "corrective rape" by homophobic men. "Corrective rape" is a phenomenon in South Africa where men try to "cure" a lesbian through forced sexual intercourse.

In one case, it was reported that Millicent Gaika, from a city near Cape Town, was approached by a man for a cigarette but was attacked and raped. The incident occurred for five hours and the man allegedly said, "You think you’re a man, but I’m going to show you you’re a woman."

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