Cape Town, 5 December 2020 – Hate crimes committed against lesbians and gay men have been commonplace in Manenberg, and gangs like Hard Livings and the Americans have been instrumental in assaulting the gay men and lesbians, leaving a trail of blood and pain behind them, warned Leslie van Rooyen, director of the NGO Youth4ChangeGlobal.
Van Rooyen has been director of Youth4ChangeGlobal since 2017 and he has committed himself to seek financial support to build a suitable shelter where members of the LGBT+ community in Manenberg can be cared for in a safe environment which is shielded from the gangs and other hostile attackers in the area.
Van Rooyen has used his home as a haven where more than 1000 members of the LGBT+ community could stay for the past 20 years.
Because of his care for members of this community, he has also been targeted and assaulted. He was once left unconscious for five days after somebody threw a brick at him and struck him against the head.
Members of the lesbian community have been raped by gang members of the Americans and Hard Livings, while gay men have been brutally assaulted. Some of these men were killed, others were interrogated by the gangs, a bottle pushed up their anuses, and others have been bitten by dogs and killed through the actions of the gangs.
Van Rooyen says the six people working at Youth4ChangeGlobal are all volunteers who sell fast food on a Friday and Saturday to finance support for the LGBT+ community in the area.
The Youth4Change Global NGO is working in close association with Sonke Gender Justice and the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children.
It has been a challenge to take cases of murder, rape, and assaults to the police. Court cases have often been postponed, and dockets have disappeared, says Van Rooyen.
“What we have experienced, has been a life of marginalization, assaults, and attacks.
“What we are asking for, is for financial support from the public and local businesses in order to implement our plan of building a safe haven for members of the LGBT+ community in Manenberg,” Van Rooyen said.
If somebody wants to contact Youth4Change Global, they can mail Van Rooyen at firstname.lastname@example.org.