Lesbians are very often undercounted as murder victims--both within the so-called LGBT community and by those who monitor violence against women. This is a beginning effort to honor the names of the lesbians that have been lost.
"Andreza Souza dos Santos, 29, was found dead with 20 stab wounds in the north of the capital. The victim's brother reported that upon arriving home, he found his sister with several stab wounds in the arm, abdomen and chest."
Kandis Major and Terri Seibeck (2009)
I usually reserve postings for recent murders, with older ones limited to the pages. But I am making an exception here, to show how difficult and under-reported the murders of lesbians really are.
Though this was a double murder, reporting was limited to small town media, and doesn't appear to have been picked up by the LGBT media at all. Though, admittedly, that might have been hard to do, as the media, at least as far as I can tell, never identified Kandis Major and Terri Seibeck as partners or lesbians. Only an on-line community forum does. Though I do Internet searches on a regular basis, murders from years ago still show up quite frequently.
A 21-year-old woman heard the words guilty six times in a Heartland court on Wednesday.
A Franklin County jury convicted Afton Ferris of killing Kandis Major and Terri Seibeck in their West Frankfort home in back October of 2009.
Late Wednesday morning, Ferris walked back into the Franklin County Courthouse handed cuffed and shackled to hear her fate. Many filled the court room to hear that verdict. One of those was Carol Kesler, Seibeck's aunt.
"Before we went in there, before that I was really getting sick to my stomach," Kesler said.
Kesler says she worried that Ferris would go free. But after a span of two days and nearly 6 and half hours of deliberation, Kelsey and others learned Ferris would stay behind bars.
"In that court room, after they announced it, it was a big relief," Kesler said.
Kesler took the witness stand and couldn't listen to testimony. But Seibeck's grandmother, Judy Turner, watched as the state built a case against Ferris for what took place in a West Frankfort home nearly two years ago.
"Really shaky, nervous and very upsetting and I'm glad it's over," Turner said.
Kesler says it's been difficult without her niece. But Kesler added, when she heard the jury's decision it was hard to control her emotion.
"When they said guilty to everything, you wanted to jump up and say yahoo, but you couldn't," Kesler said.
Outside the courthouse hugs were exchanged and tissues wiped away more tears. Franklin County State's Attorney Evan Owens spoke with relieved family members. But even as deputies took Ferris back to jail, Kesler couldn't completely celebrate.
When asked if Wednesday's guilty verdict was justice, Kesler said, "Halfway there, part of it."
Kesler hopes the other part of justice will come, when Ferris's former boyfriend Michael Schallert, walks into court to stand trial for the same crime in early September.
The family of Kandis Majors said they had no comment.
Meanwhile Ferris's attorney Jerry Crisel said they believe she got a fair trial under the circumstances. But added they did file a motion to have a change of venue. Crisel says they do plan to file an appeal.
Ferris is expected back in court July 29, 2011 to learn her sentence. A jury found her guilty on six counts which include first degree murder, home invasion and armed robbery.
Lerato Moloi's body was found at an open field in Naledi on Sunday. Lerato was among the four women whose bodies were found in the township over the weekend. Their gruesome killings have sparked nationwide outrage .
Police believe Lerato was also raped. Two men arrested in connection with her murder appeared in the Protea Magistrate's Court yesterday.
Community safety patroller Thabo Motloung told Sowetan that Lerato, a lesbian, was allegedly killed by her drinking buddies. He said Lerato was with the two men at a tavern on Saturday night.
"They were her friends. She hung out with them every weekend.
"I saw them with her at about 1am on Saturday. They had an argument over R20 at the tavern," he said.
Motloung said when he learned that Lerato was killed he hunted down the men together with other community members.
"They were the last people seen with her so we knew it was them. A video footage at the tavern also showed them with her. We found one of them at a shack and handed him over to the police where he revealed his accomplice," he said.
Lerato's grieving stepfather Thami Khumalo, 54, said: "Someone came here on Sunday morning and took me to the scene. Her body was laying there with two big rocks on her head and upper body. I could tell that the jacket belonged to her but I could not see her face until the forensic team removed the big rock.
"The level of brutality was shocking. I can't stop thinking about her." Lerato's devastated mother, Zodwa Moloi, said Lerato was her only child.
"I last saw her alive on Saturday night when she came to fetch a jacket. She said she would be back," Zodwa said.
She said she would miss her daughter's bubbly personality.
"People nicknamed her 'Tambai'. She was talkative and very friendly. My heart is broken."
Zodwa said her daughter was a temporary worker at BiG, a stationery company.
LGBTI rights activist Zandile Motsoeneng said she believed Lerato's murder was a hate crime.
"She was killed by people she knew and trusted. We believe it was a hate crime motivated by her sexual orientation... most important, she was a woman killed by men," she said.
Motsoeneng was among dozens of women who gathered at the court to condemn the spate of attacks on women.
Because the body could not be visually identified, the young woman’s family were left in limbo for more than four weeks awaiting the outcome of DNA tests. They were also not able to bury her until these were completed.
It is believed that Smous was raped and murdered before being set on fire. Three men were reportedly arrested in connection with the murder, with two subsequently released. One was charged with robbery and is now also no longer in custody.
Smous’ funeral is set to take place on Saturday 13 May at the Seeisoville Community Hall from 8am till 10am. She will be buried in Wespark Cemetery. There will also be daily prayer services at her family home throughout this week.
“Most of us are relieved that the DNA results are out,” local LGBTI activist Nthabiseng Mokanyane, from Free State Action for Social Justice, told Mambaonline. “Now we can put her to rest and we can give her the dignified funeral that she deserves. It’s a form of closure for us and the family.”
She added that activists hope that the DNA test results and other outstanding forensic evidence will lead the authorities to press murder charges against the suspects.
“We have no choice but to trust that the SAPs will find the necessary evidence so that those who did this to Nonkie will get what they deserve,” Mokanyane added.
Smous was a welder who was openly lesbian and had been accepted as such by her family since she was a child. Thabiso Mogapi wa Tsotetsi, Chairperson of Action For Social Justice International, said that her murder not only represented the loss to the country of yet another LGBTI person but also that of a talented and skilled individual.
A recent hate crime study by OUT LGBT Well-being and the Love Not Hate campaign found that 41% of LGBT people in South Africa know someone who’s been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
On Monday, the Metropolitan Public Prosecutor's Office of the Northern Region formalized Camila Campodonico Cortéz (20 years old) for the murder of her partner Vanesa Gamboa Gutiérrez (18 years old), in what was considered by the Public Ministry to be a homosexual couple.
Lidiana Santana and Thayane Milla Mendes were murdered in Portugal, probably in February 2016. Their bodies were not discovered until August 2016.
Thayane Milla Mendes and Lidiana Santana
From Go Queer: According to “i” newspaper from Portugal, after months of investigation, the Portuguese police found that the suspect for triple murder, Brazilian Dinai Gomes, was really the author of the heinous murders. The girls' family allege that the murder is an "extremely conservative" man whose motivation for the murder of the lesbian couple may have been prejudice. Lidiana Santana, 16, and her girlfriend Thayane Milla Mendes, 21, were killed in Portugal while they were staying with one of the girl's sister. The Brazilian girls had been missing since February in Portugal and were found dead inside a barrel filled with water in the pet shop where Dinai Gomes used to work. The man was Michele Santana's boyfriend and she was Lidiana's sister. Michele was pregnant from Dinai, with whom she had lived for 9 years. The murder got away and traveled back to Brazil. Homophobia is killing Brazilians even out of the Brazilian territory, where, until the day of this post (Aug 28), 203 LGBT had been murdered only within 2016.