South African Court Fails to Deliver Justice in Carlton Centre Lesbian Attack

By Melanie Nathan, Dec 20, 2012.

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 7.52.41 AMToday the Johannesburg Court handed down its judgment and sentence in  the Boniswa Mtshali case which has become known as the  Carlton Centre Case.  The accused was found guilty of physical assault with a motivation of  prejudice on the basis of sexual orientation of the women.

After kissing her girlfriend goodbye on June 13, at the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, Bonisiwe Mtshali, was beaten unconscious by three security guards from Hlanganani Protection Services, who   shouted hate epithets during the assault.

However only one security guards was found guilty.  He was sentenced to pay a fine of  R4000 ($400 approx) or to four months in Prison.  The other two were not mentioned in the case because the police failed to include them in the initial statement and so they were never charged.

Boniswa the Complainant said she was  not happy about the verdict but “at least something has been done unlike nothing at all.” The activist organization known as Forum for the Empowerment of Women ( noted their displeasure too: “We are not satisfied about the verdict, however this is one of the first cases in many that we deal with of homophobic attacks that has got to a stage of sentencing.”

Although South Africa’s constitution protects LGBTI rights there is no defined hate crimes law that might serve to add harsher sentences for crimes committed with a clear hate motivation such as this.  Homophobic attacks on lesbians,  gays and transgender people are rampant in South Africa.

I hope that Boniswa realizes that she can bring a civil court action against all three attackers and that she can also sue the Security company. After practicing law in South Africa I too experienced cases where victims received minimal if any justice in the criminal courts, yet some redemption through the civil actions.

Photo of Protestors: Zanele Muholi from Zoliswa case Feb 2012.


2 thoughts on “South African Court Fails to Deliver Justice in Carlton Centre Lesbian Attack

  1. Time to hassle the bosses of the Hianganani Protection Services methinks. Very reasonable emails on a constant basis. I think some sackings are due!

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