Seeking justice for slain teen

A protester with a placard bearing a picture of Liyabona Mabishi.

Protesters gathered outside the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Monday to oppose a bail bid by five men accused of murdering 16-year-old Liyabona Mabishi.

The Chris Hani High School Grade 11 was stabbed 13 times while walking with a male friend near her home on March 21, Human Rights Day.

There were claims at the time that Liyabona was killed for being a lesbian. Her friend who tried to stop the attack was also stabbed.

Community leaders and the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community picketed peacefully outside the courthouse, some carrying placards bearing Liyabona’s picture.

According to Liyabona’s aunt, Melokuhle Tshali, her niece was walking home when she bumped into a man who was walking with several others. She apologised, but the men turned around and started to stab her. They had only stabbed her male friend once, Ms Tshali said.

It was clear, she said, that her niece had been killed because of her sexuality.

Whenever she walked past the spot where her niece had been attacked it brought back painful memories, she said.

A visibly emotional Ms Tshali said it made no sense to kill a young person for simply being who she was.

“We want these people who killed her to be sentenced to life in prison,” she said. “We are opposing the bail hearing because we do not know whether they won’t come after us since they killed our daughter and niece. We hope that the justice system won’t fail us.

“Her mother is still traumatised, and I think it would take some time for her to finally accept how her daughter was killed.

“If we had means, we would leave the area and get a decent place to stay somewhere else because living there has become a constant reminder of Liyabona’s death.”

Ms Tshali said Liyabona had been a young and ambitious person, and her killers had denied her the chance to pursue her dreams and hopes.

Gender-rights activist Funeka Soldaat called on the court to give effect to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement in September last year that those charged with the rape and murder of women and children would not be granted bail.

She said she did not understand why a bail hearing had been held to begin with.

However, she said she was glad the community had shown support for Liyabona’s family because in the past it would only have been the LGBTQI community.

The bail hearing was postponed to Thursday August 6, and the accused were remanded in custody.