South African authorities are investigating whether the murder of a young gay man was a hate crime. Thapelo Makutle, who recently began calling himself transgender, was found dead Saturday morning in his rented room in the town of Kuruman. The 23-year-old’s throat was slit and his severed genitals were inserted in his mouth.
Shaine Griqua, the director of the gay advocacy group LEGBO Northern Cape, said witnesses reported seeing Thapelo arguing with two men about his sexuality on Friday night. The men are believed to have followed Thapelo home and killed him because he was gay. Hate crimes carry harsher sentences in South Africa.
"It's so sad. I can't describe the pain that we are feeling right now," Griqua told mambaonline. "We have lost a young, talented, gay man who was open about who he was. The last few days have been like a dark cloud."
Makutle worked as a LEGBO Northern Cape volunteer and was heavily involved in the gay community of the Kuruman region. He often performed as a drag queen under the name Queen Bling. Makutle recently won the Miss Gay Kuruman pageant.
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