A South African man is on trial for the brutal murder of a gay man who was butchered and burned in a suspected hate crime.
The mutilated remains of 40-year-old Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela were found in a shallow grave 11 days after his murder. He is believed to have been killed simply because he was gay.
The 28-year-old suspect, who has not yet been named, appeared at the Kwa-Nobuhle Magistrates Court in the Eastern Cape on Tuesday (13 April).
Police spokesperson Col Priscilla Naidu said he was arrested after the man’s family complained to the police that he had burnt bedding at his house.
“On 1 April, the family reported the malicious property damage to police and indicated that they were suspicious that he may have been involved in some other criminal activity,” she said. “Police went to the house and found bloodstains inside his room as well as outside.”
The suspect was hospitalised for a mental health condition between 1 and 9 April. On his discharge from hospital he was arrested and detained for malicious damage to property.
Information about Ntuthela’s murder emerged under questioning, and officers found his remains only a few paces from the alleged killer’s front door.
“The murder is suspected to be LGBTQI linked,” Naidu confirmed.
The gruesome killing in South Africa comes days after another gay manwas stabbed to death and dumped in a ditch near a school.
As Ntuthela’s murder forced South Africans to confront the reality of this mounting death toll, members of KwaNobuhle’s LGBT+ community were left reeling.
“We know we are not safe. We only hang out with people that we know and trust because we know the prejudice we face,” said Sixolile Ndlondlo, Ntuthela close friend, speaking to The Herald.
“Andile knew his [alleged] killer. They were friends. For him to be killed like this … has us questioning who we can trust.”
Sibonelo Ncanana-Trower, spokesperson for Nelson Mandela Bay LGBTI Sector, urged queer South Africans to speak out against the increase in homophobic hate.
“[We are] deeply worried about Lulu’s murder and would like that the heavy might of law be felt by the killer,” Ncanana-Trower said to IOL.
“We call on the community to not be silent on such cases and to speak out. The Sector notes the increase in crimes of hate in the country and calls on government to intervene and work with the sector in engaging the community.
“Hate crimes don’t only affect the victim and family, it affects the whole community in a negative way.”
A candlelit prayer to celebrate Ntuthela’s life will be held on Thursday (15 April), the Sector said.