Thursday, March 07, 2013

9th Unsolved Cape Town Gay Murder Reported

(Graham Flax, one-year ago, as he appeared in his Badoo meetup profile photo.)

The murders of nine gay men, of several races, in the Cape Town, South Africa, region in the past two years was brought to my attention this week by Denis Nzokia of Identity Kenya and the group's news site. Nzioka recounts the recent death and the larger pattern of killings:

In an incident similar to a spate of recent attacks on gay men in South Africa, another gay man has been murdered in his home, apparently after meeting someone online. The Rapport paper reported on Wednesday that the body of Graham Flax (65) was discovered in the hallway of his apartment in the Costa Bravo apartment building in Sea Point, Cape Town, on Sunday night. He appeared to have suffered a blow to the head and was blue in the face . . . Rapport said that police have a suspect in custody but he has not yet appeared in court. 

In January, the body of 50-year-old Graham Collop was found in his ransacked flat in Plumstead, Cape Town. He had been bound and strangled. There was also no sign of forced entry. 

 (Names and photos, except for two, of the murdered gays. Photo courtesy of Eye Witness News.)

Nzioka goes on to say:

The circumstances of these attacks are similar to those of a series of murders of gay men in Gauteng, pictured, over the past two years. Police have previously said that they believe that a gang targeting gay men has been operating in Gauteng and Cape Town. 

In December, Maxwell Nyathi, Mthokozisi Ndlovu and Themba Maseko, pictured, appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrates' Court in connection with the murder of Orange Grove resident, Barney van Heerden. Photo provided courtesy of OUT South Africa.

Van Heerden (39) was found dead in his home in September 2011. He had been tied up and appeared to have been strangled. There was no sign of forced entry. The suspects’ case has been postponed by the courts as police are still investigating the men's possible connection to seven other murders in Gauteng. 

The authorities have also not ruled out that other members of the alleged gang might still be active, possibly in Cape Town. Police believe that, at least in some of the cases, the criminals may have used chat rooms or online dating services to target their gay victims.

According to the Eye Witness News service, the director of the advocacy group OUT South Africa, Dawie Nel, expressed deep frustration with the failure of law enforcement personnel solve the nine murders. He said:

I think it's definitely a case of police either being homophobic, incompetent or not doing their job.

Nel and OUT South Africa urge gays to exercise caution when cruising online and in hookups, and have created a web page offering advice to remain safe and protect themselves.

May the dead gay men rest in peace, and their killers brought to justice expeditiously.

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