Cape Town - The LGBTQI+ community and friends of 16-year-old Liyabona Mabishi have started a petition to have her alleged killers denied bail.
Liyabona, from Nkanini in Khayelitsha, was killed allegedly by five men in March for being lesbian.
The petition has received more than 700 signatures.
Liyabona’s friend, Simnikiwe Gqithiso, said she wanted the suspects to be denied bail when they appeared in court next week.
“I want people to stand up for Liyabona, who did not deserve to die the way she did. She was an innocent kid who lived her own life, who meant no harm but just bumped into a guy like a normal person does," she said.
“She never knew that mistakenly bumping into a person might end up putting her in a coffin because of her sexuality.
"She deserves justice right now, and better than what the justice system is giving her. She deserves to rest in peace knowing that her killers are arrested and will spend years in jail for what they did to her."
Free Gender chairperson Funeka Soldaat added: “We constantly have to look behind our shoulders. The killing of Liyabona was unnecessary and we don’t care what she could've said leading to the incident. They had no right to brutally kill her because she was lesbian.
"There was a recent incident in Harare where a gay boy was beaten up because of his sexuality. This has caused many of our members not reporting these incidents to the police for fear of victimisation."
She added that others feared being exposed to the public, as well as secondary victimisation from police, where “one is instead questioned about their sexuality and their cases not given priority”.
Soldaat said the organisation has been working with others in their areas to increase awareness and tolerance for the queer community.
“Brutal killings and abuse of homosexual people is a violation of human rights. You don't have to persuade someone about liking a particular person. We also need to run away from the fact that when something has happened to a queer person that it becomes an LGBTQI+ issue alone, but it is also a women issue or a community issue. We are part and parcel of the families and communities that we live in,” she said.
Liyabona’s mother Philiswa said the family were struggling to accept her death and were praying that the suspects do not make bail, as they were locals who were known to the family and they feared what they might do should they get out and return to the community.